Will PN make inroads into newfound PH-BN coalition strongholds in Selangor?

THE six state polls have now become a bigger deal and will test the support for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Madani government.

These elections will reflect how the public evaluates the performance of Anwar’s newfound Pakatan Harapan-Brisan Nasional (BN) coalition and his administration in the eight months since he took office.

A total of 9.77 million voters will be eligible to cast their votes during the six state elections with Selangor recording the highest at 3.75 million.

Selangor is touted as the richest, most developed and most industrialised state. A total of 56 seats in the Selangor state assembly are up for grabs with 39 of them being predominantly Malay seats.

Since assuming office last year, Anwar has announced multiple efforts to counter the ethno-religious narrative pushed by the opposition. The PH chairman is scheduled to launch the Madani economic narrative in August as a guide for a clearer direction of the country’s economy.

The six state elections is going to be a different political landscape. Perikatan Nasional (PN) will now have to face the new PH-BN coalition.

Tight contest

The opposition has been accusing the unity government of failing to solve the issue of rising living costs and fair salaries.  They claim that a surge in prices of daily necessities has made daily budgeting and purchasing of lay Malaysians tougher.

The government should focus more on the living wage to ensure that it reflects the current standard of living.

In the meantime, the PH-BN coalition is betting on their supporters to remain loyal and vote for each other against a common enemy. Observers say this will be a crucial test for the unity government.

For now, it seems very obvious that the opposition PN coalition which includes Bersatu and PAS openly stands for Malay Muslim interests.

The recent 15th General Election (GE15) parliamentary election has witnessed vote swing towards PN vis-à-vis the “green wave” phenomenon which framed the national polls outcome as “a rising wave of Islamisation” and a disastrous collapse in support for UMNO in all peninsula states.

As it is, every political coalition or political party for the matter are calling on their supporters and fence-sitters to come out in droves to vote.

At the same time, we cannot assume that PN has control most of the Malay support constituencies. The electoral landscape has become much more competitive whereby electoral outcomes will depend on many factors.

Cannot simply assume

We can’t assume too that DAP which is an important component of PH will have an automatic stranglehold on non-Malay votes.

DAP – a party most often associated with the Chinese – had tried before to field Malay candidates in GE15 in what was perceived as an attempt to gain more non-Chinese support. For Selangor, the party has announced that it will defend all the 16 state seats it won in the GE14.

Selangor has 56 state seats. Prior to the dissolution of the state assembly on June 23, PH held 40 seats – PKR (19), DAP (15), Amanah (six) – BN (five), Bersatu (four), Parti Bangsa Malaysia (two) with PAS, Pejuang and Warisan and independent (one each).

The Batang Kali seat was declared vacant last February after its assemblyman failed to attend the state assembly sittings for more than six months.

Selangor PH chairman Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari had earlier announced that BN would contest in more than 20% of the 56 state seats with PH’s coalition members filling up the rest.

Meanwhile, after a disastrous outing in the recent GE15, both MCA and MIC have decided to skip the upcoming state elections. In GE15, MCA only won two of the 44 parliamentary seats it contested while MIC only secured one of the 10 seats it vied for.

Both parties nevertheless assured that they will continue to stick as component members of the BN coalition.

Supposedly if the PH-BN coalition does not perform well in Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Penang in the quest to elect a stable state government with a handsome majority, one wonders will there ever be a collaboration with PN to form a new coalition at the state level named “Perikatan Harapan”?

This is likely to be the country’s closest-fought state-election. Let’s wait and see. – July 16, 2023


The writer has served the Malaysian government at various ministries and agencies for almost 30 years.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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