THE elections for the six states of Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, Penang, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu have been concluded and curtains closed.
The results of the elections were to some extent expected.
As predicted, the Pakatan Harapn-Barisan Nasional (PH-BN) alliance was able to retain the states of Negri Sembilan, Selangor and Penang whereas PN was able to consolidate victory in Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu which are the Malay heartland.
What is interesting is not the gross victories but the specific performance of PH-BN and PN.
PH-BN maintained its two-thirds majority comfortably in Negri Sembilan and to some extent a reduced two-thirds majority in Penang but lost the two-thirds in Selangor.
The ultimate winner in the elections is the PN coalition consisting of Bersatu and PAS. PN candidates picked up support ranging from 15% to 30%.
While Bersatu made inroads in Selangor and to a limited extent in Negri Sembilan, PAS’ performance was rather conspicuous in the northern and eastern states.
PN completely dominated the three state seats in the Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency in Sebarang Perai, once the stronghold of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s family.
PH-BN’s only impressive performance was in the state of Negri Sembilan.
Green wave yet to subside
While PAS and DAP were able to maintain their political dominance among the Malays and non-Malays (particularly the Chinese) respectively, the performance of UMNO, PKR and Amanah was dismal.
In Penang, DAP managed to secure its 19 state seats without much effort but PKR was able to secure victory in only seven of the 13 seats it contested while Amanah managed to secure one seat and UMNO two seats.
The presence of non-Malay voters assisted in these victories because there was not much support from the Malays.
For the first time in history, the opposition in the Penang state assembly will consist of PN elected representatives, mostly from PAS.
As predicted by analysts before the state election in Penang, the majority of the PH-BN would be a reduced one. As if a follow up from the last 15th General Election (GE15), the majority of Malay voters rode on the green wave to support PN.
Due to the electoral gains achieved, PN leaders were bold enough to call for the resignation of Anwar and his deputy Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Voter turnout was on the average about 70%. Election fatigue could be the reason behind the average turnout. What is obvious, however, is that the green wave phenomenon has not really subsided after the GE15.
Its sustainability seems to be predicated on the unpopularity of UMNO as the lynchpin of BN. There is only so much that Anwar or PH could do to ensure UMNO’s relevance in politics.
The only saving grace for BN was its winning of 10 seats in Negri Sembilan. There is possibility that an UMNO candidate might be proposed as the next Menteri Besar of Negri Sembilan.
UMNO a liability
Meanwhile, the DAP that managed to maintain its relevance among the non-Malays particularly the Chinese, might face the dim prospect of supporting and sustaining the Malay-based political parties such as PKR, Amanah and UMNO.
Whether the party will have choice is difficult to determine at this point in time. Malay disenchantment with PH-BN in general and UNNO in particular is bound to grow in the coming years.
It would be quite impossible for the unity government to prevent this ominous political slide. There is possibility that the unity government might have to take a more right-wing political posture to appease the conservatives in PN.
If this is going to be the trend, then there is possibility that non-Malays might become alienated from the right-wing direction.
As it is, the frustrations with the unity government are growing especially among certain segments of the non-Malays.
The election results might not have any immediate effect on the unity government. The government will continue as per the GE15 electoral mandate. But PN might possibly derail the government from addressing its objectives.
Anwar might be placed in a most unenviable position. A shift of his government in the direction of the appeasement of right-wing forces might send the wrong signals to the non-Malays who have given him the undivided support. – Aug 13, 2023
Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the former DAP state assemblyman for Perai. He is also the former deputy chief minister of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.