Tenang rebuff forces Pakatan strategy rethink

The Tenang defeat coupled with regional perceptions of DAP is forcing Pakatan Rakyat (PR) to review its strategy of challenging Umno’s rural dominance.

Despite acknowledging that taking Putrajaya would be difficult without rural support, some leaders are now thinking about “choosing their battles” and targeting swing seats to beat a resurgent Umno.

Umno brought home over 83 per cent of Malays in Sunday’s poll, four percentage points higher than in 2008, giving its candidate Azahar Ibrahim a 3,707-vote majority over PAS’s Normala Sudirman.

“The DAP-PAS relationship is good in many other places but a liability here. Felda chided us as DAP Barua (DAP goons),” said PAS central committee member Dzulkefly Ahmad of the reception that the Islamic party received in the federally administered settlements.

Barisan Nasional (BN) has been playing the two parties in the opposition pact against each other and Malay language media owned by the ruling coalition has accused DAP of being anti-Malay and Chinese chauvinists.

“Our leaders need to choose their battles. It is foolish to think that ‘new politics’ will keep snowballing.

“We can’t be fighting every time there is a vacancy because we are resource-limited and the defeat damages our morale and image,” the Kuala Selangor MP told The Malaysian Insider, adding that it was impossible to ask these voters to change in the space of a 10-day election campaign.

DAP strategist and Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong also admitted rural Malays outside of the northern states were still a “fixed deposit” for Umno and said that PR should strategise and concentrate on swing seats rather than “black areas.”

“We should try to create new support among new or unregistered voters and not in this sort of ‘entrapped’ constituencies,” he said, referring to the Felda electorate whose livelihood, he said, was “at the behest of BN.