KOTA KINABALU: An analyst says the lack of a common logo among opposition parties going into the upcoming state election could see major political realignments should there be a hung assembly after the polls.
Rahezzal Shah Abd Karim of Sabah Universiti Teknologi Mara said there had been no serious discussion among the parties about using a common banner to face the election as yet.
It was reported that only Warisan Plus, which includes Upko, PKR and DAP, will be discussing the possibility of using the Warisan logo for the polls.
While he did not believe using a common logo would translate into an advantage for any side, Rahezzal said not contesting on a common ticket would mean parties were free to choose sides in the event of a stalemate.
“If there is a hung assembly, you can’t discount the possibility that whatever coalition that is formed can change,” he told FMT.
“This is where the logo comes into play. The advantage of using your own logo is, you can form a coalition with Warisan or whatever party and tell the voters that it is not jumping ship.
“You also tell the voters that you are willing to work together, but at the same time, you are independent and not tied up with any political structure or bound by any pact.”
Rahezzal said it was understood that most of the opposition parties in Sabah had an understanding with each other to defeat Warisan Plus, but this was only a loose pact.
And unlike the last general election, they did not come under an official umbrella, for instance, Barisan Nasional (BN), he said.
“If there is a hung assembly, then there is a high possibility that we could see major realignments among the political parties in Sabah, whether they align to Umno or PPBM, so that they can form a government,” he said.
“You never know how things will pan out after the election. Even the unthinkable can happen.
“We don’t know, maybe PBS can team up with Warisan and other smaller parties, instead of supporting BN … they could switch their support to Warisan. The same can be said for parties in Warisan Plus (switching sides).
“Just imagine if the difference in the number of seats won is only one or two. So, I think at that time, Warisan has to be realistic and look at its position in order to form the government.”
While Warisan Plus is a clear electoral pact, the same cannot be said about the opposition, albeit many are aligned to Perikatan Nasional.
Sabah Umno is expected to contest under the BN logo, together with its formal partners, Sabah MCA and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah.
PBS recently said it would, after 16 years, use its own locally familiar symbol while Jeffrey Kitingan, who is STAR president, had said it remained to be seen if one common logo would be used by the opposition.
Both parties are aligned to PN. Sabah PPBM is the only outright PN party in the state and it, too, seems to be heading down that road of using its own symbol for the election.
At the same time, the Liberal Democratic Party is touting itself as the third force, being an independent entity.
This is also the case for Parti Cinta Sabah, now led by former foreign minister Anifah Aman, which has said it preferred to move on its own for now.
Rahezzal is surprised that there is virtually no one talking about a hung assembly.
“All this is because of what happened in 2018; there was a hung assembly. Because of that, there were crossovers,” he said.
“So, I think from now on, more discussions should be focused on putting pressure on the opposition and Warisan – if there is a hung assembly, what would each do?
“They can’t be saying ‘we’ll cross the bridge when we get there’. We crossed that bridge in 2018 and look where it got us now.”
Warisan-Pakatan Harapan was tied with BN at 29 seats each in the 60-seat state assembly after the May 2018 general election, with STAR holding the two remaining seats, making it the kingmaker.
The opposition party then sided with BN, giving it a simple majority to form the government, with Musa Aman sworn in as chief minister on May 10 that year.
But defections from BN followed, with Upko and Umno assemblymen switching sides and pledging support for Warisan president Shafie Apdal, who was sworn in as the chief minister two days later.