AN analyst has brushed off claims that the younger generation finds the Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin-led Bersatu to be more relevant than UMNO, adding that the former party was dependent for its appeal on its association with PAS.
In a report published on FMT, Council of Professors fellow Datuk Dr Jeniri Amir said Bersatu might even lose some supporters now because of the court cases against its leaders.
He was responding to former Bersatu information chief Datuk Wan Saiful Wan Jan’s claim yesterday that Bersatu is stronger following the November general election as the younger generation sees the party as being more relevant than UMNO.
The Tasik Gelugor MP said this was obvious as Bersatu had won 31 seats in the 15th general election (GE15), five seats more than UMNO, and surpassed the 30 seats won by Barisan Nasional (BN).
On this matter, Jeniri told the news portal that with the slew of cases affecting the party’s leadership – including Wan Saiful’s – Malay voters will change their perception of the party.
Wan Saiful was recently charged with accepting a RM6.9 mil bribe and soliciting an unspecified amount over a RM232 mil road project under the Jana Wibawa programme. He pleaded not guilty.
Segambut Bersatu deputy chief Adam Radlan Adam Muhammad was also charged with corruption in relation to the initiative, aimed at helping Bumiputera contractors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
PN chairman and Pagoh MP Muhyiddin is currently under investigation in a Jana Wibawa-related case.
Jeniri further alleged that the cases had tarnished Bersatu’s image of being a clean party. “It claims to be the cleaner party compared to UMNO, but if the charges turn out to be true, then it’s no different from UMNO,” he remarked.
Meanwhile, James Chin, professor of Asian Studies at the University of Tasmania in Australia opined that only the results of the forthcoming state polls would prove Wan Saiful’s claim, although he acknowledged that Bersatu appeared to be stronger than UMNO given GE15’s voting pattern.
However, he conceded that the Malay vote was still “up for grabs”.
“It’s true that PAS is Bersatu’s main source of strength, but in areas where PAS isn’t strong, Bersatu has its own support as well,” he was reported as saying by FMT.
“We should not take for granted that the Malay vote remains in one place. It does move. That’s why so many people were surprised by the rise of PAS, which attracted Malay votes in GE15.”
In GE15, the PN coalition secured 54% of the Malay votes.
Contrary to Jeniri, Chin did not think the current court cases involving Bersatu leaders would greatly affect the party.
“This simply means Bersatu will find it a lot more difficult to accuse UMNO, or its president [Datuk Seri] Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, of corruption because its own people are also on trial,” he pointed out. – March 2, 2023
Main pic credit: Wacana.my