PETALING JAYA: PKR and Amanah may be hoping to steal votes from Umno by fielding defectors from the Malay party in Melaka, but an analyst has warned that the plan may backfire.
Pakatan Harapan (PH) supporters might revolt against the move, said former academic Azmi Hassan.
After formally accepting former Melaka chief minister Idris Haron and former Pantai Kundor assemblyman Nor Azman Hassan into their ranks, PH leaders now find themselves pushed into a corner to defend their decision.
The coalition’s Melaka chief, Adly Zahari, likened it to the acceptance of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Bersatu prior to the 2018 general election, which saw Malaysia’s first ever change of government. And opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is seeking to distinguish the acceptance of the former Umno members from the infamous Sheraton Move.
At a press conference yesterday, DAP organising secretary Loke Siew Fook had to tell his party’s supporters, who he acknowledged were unhappy with the acceptance of the defectors, to remain steadfast in their support for PH.
Azmi, however, has cast doubt over whether PH supporters would buy into the bloc’s gambit to steal Umno votes.
“They may believe that the two ex-Umno assemblymen can pull support from existing Umno members, and that would be a strong consideration and reason for their being brought in,” he told FMT.
“But for every 100 Umno supporters Idris or Azman pulls in, there could be 1,000 who feel they have been cheated by their parties.”
He said this could result in protest votes or non-votes, particularly in Asahan and Pantai Kundor, where the pair are contesting.
“The stigma of the two men could also spill over beyond these two places, and the parties will have to face the consequences of taking them in.”
Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs agreed there could be PH supporters opposing the fielding of the ex-Umno men, but he said they would be a minority.
However, he said both seats were won by relatively small margins in 2018 and even a small group of supporters turning away could cost them the constituencies.
“It is perhaps less of a problem for DAP, which commanded overwhelming majorities in the constituencies it won.“
He said that PH supporters would ultimately have to choose between focusing on the “big picture” of helping to reclaim Melaka or promoting idealism by rejecting the defectors.