PETALING JAYA: Perikatan Nasional’s combination of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Muhyiddin Yassin and Abdul Hadi Awang which will head their campaign for the Pelangai by-election will pose a strong challenge to Barisan Nasional, says a political analyst.
Azmi Hassan of Akademi Nusantara said Mahathir’s presence was in line with the PN theme that Malay political power is under threat with the presence of DAP as allies of Umno in the unity federal coalition.
He said Mahathir, Bersatu president Muhyiddin, and PAS president Hadi have successfully positioned themselves as protectors of Malay and Islamic rights.
The three Malay-Muslim rights leaders, by working together in the campaign, would further their theme that DAP is too strong, Umno is too weak, and Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim cannot control DAP’s actions, Azmi told FMT.
The Pelangai by-election in Pahang on Oct 7 is to fill the state assembly vacancy caused by the death of Umno’s Johari Harun, a state executive councillor, in a plane crash in August.
BN is fielding Bentong Umno committee member Amizar Abu Adam against Kasim Samat of PN and independent candidate Haslihelmy DM Zulhasli.
Wan Rosdy as counterweight
To counter the Mahathir-Muhyiddin-Hadi influence, Azmi suggested that BN highlight Pahang menteri besar Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail’s role as the head of the state government as proof that PN’s claim about the erosion of Malay power is not true, at least in Pahang.
He said Wan Rosdy’s position would show a Malay was still in the driver’s seat in Pahang, able to keep PH assemblymen under control.
BN holds 16 seats in the 42-member state assembly and is in alliance with PH, which holds eight seats. PN holds 17 seats through PAS (15 seats) and Bersatu (2).
On Sunday, PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the coalition would bring out their big guns including Mahathir, Muhyiddin, Hadi and PN secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin for the by-election campaign.
Previously, Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar, menteri besar of the PAS-led Terengganu state government, had said a grouping of PN-led states Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, was in the works with Mahathir acting as its unofficial adviser.
What BN-PH should do
Another analyst, Mazlan Ali of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, said Mahathir’s inclusion was no guarantee of helping the PN cause as he had failed in leading his former party Pejuang in the 2022 general election, in which his party lost all its contests, and its candidates forfeited their deposits.
However, the PN threat should not be taken lightly by the BN-PH alliance, although Pelangai is a traditional Umno seat, with PN’s strength being mainly on the west coast of Pahang.
He said Umno should put their efforts on convincing grassroot members and traditional voters in Pelangai, especially in Felda areas, to continue supporting the party and thus stop the erosion of Malay votes to PN as shown in the recent state elections.
“PH must help Umno to approach non-Malay voters, as there is a 20% Chinese voter base there as a fixed deposit for PH. This might contribute to Umno’s victory in Pelangai,” Mazlan said.