Slim by-election proves Muafakat Nasional making inroads, say analysts

Ballot boxes being carried into the counting centre for the Slim by-election last night.

PETALING JAYA: Political analysts see the result of the Slim by-election as confirming the strength of the Muafakat Nasional (MN) alliance of the three major Malay-based parties.

Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia said the result shows that the collaboration between Umno, PAS and PPBM is effective.

“It shows that MN is making inroads and is in a better position now. The grassroots loyalties are also growing stronger,” he said.

Based on the results from the district polling centres, the protest voters against Barisan Nasional in the last election may have returned to back BN again, he said.

“The low turnout shows those who didn’t return could be those who backed Pakatan Harapan. We didn’t see big guns from PH coming to campaign for Pejuang,” he said.

Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) is the new party set up by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and allies.

Sivamurugan said the new party did not have a strong election machinery. “I think Dr Mahathir Mohamad had expected this result but he needed a platform to show that Pejuang can be a player too. This is not the end for him.”

He urged politicians not to rule Dr Mahathir out yet. “He is still significant. It may not show in the polls but in mainstream politics he still has influence.”

Political scientist Chandra Muzaffar said the collaboration between Umno, PAS and PPBM would result in the allies having total command over rural Malay voters.

Chandra also said the result indicated that Dr Mahathir has lost some of his rural Malay supporters.

“He was PM for 24 years over 2 stints, people would’ve expected a candidate he backed to do better,” Chandra added.

James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said Pejuang would stand a better chance if its candidate contested under the party logo rather than as an independent candidate.

“Pejuang still has a lot of work to do and the reason they didn’t do very well was that they didn’t have a party infrastructure and they were forced to use the independent banner instead,” Chin told FMT.