Slim to be Muafakat Nasional’s true test

Zainal Epi, Malay Mail Online

The upcoming Slim state seat by-election in Tanjong Malim is not expected to be a walk in the park for Muafakat Nasional (MN) despite its success in the just-concluded Chini by-election in Pahang and others before that.

With different political landscape and scenario, PAS and Umno are expected to face a tough battle as the two parties cannot expect their grassroots to behave the same as in Chini or even Semenyih when they trounced Pakatan Harapan (PH) that fielded a Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) candidate.

With Bersatu in the coalition called Perikatan Nasional (PN) and considered the weakest link as the party has yet to gain enough grassroots support, it is now left to MN to “combat the enemy” of DAP and PKR that have loyalists in the constituency.

Bersatu, which went into the 2018 general election together with DAP and PKR under PH, polled 6,144 votes that were actually from DAP and PKR voters and not its own.

The party was just set up at that time, which made it the weakest link in PH given that it had to fully depend on its allies — DAP, PKR and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) — in the polls.

Luckily for the party, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is the prime minister and well respected by leaders and majority members of PAS and Umno, which is actually the rallying point of PN, without which the coalition may be in disarray.

Fortunately, right now, Bersatu is not fighting against MN as in Tanjung Piai, Johor and Semenyih, Selangor. It is left to MN to fight the battle, which is a scenario that is not that “beautiful”, given the formation of MN is not thorough as yet.

Leaving Bersatu alone, leaders of MN have their own problems. They may have agreed to work together at the national level but their grassroots are of a different mind over the co-operation as both sides view each other with suspicion.

Their contention is either one is trying to dominate the other in the ruling coalition, taking advantage of Bersatu’s weakness, especially now when MPs of both sides are given positions in government-linked companies, where the grassroots are questioning the wisdom of such moves.

And in the upcoming Slim state seat by-election, the two parties in MN need to maintain their support while at the same time chipping away at PH’s support, which is considered as quite a job.

Given the discontentment within members and supporters of MN, it is not surprising if MN cannot do a Chini, where their opponents will lose their deposit. PKR is on a warpath — serious warpath as the party felt cheated by Bersatu or, specifically, former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

So, the upcoming matter is of how big or small the majority will be for MN, which the public already assume will win.

In the last general election, Barisan Nasional polled 8,327 votes to Bersatu’s 6,144 and PAS’s 4,103 with a turnout of 83 per cent.

In this coming by-election, the figures may change drastically and the turnout may not even reach 70 per cent, which is dangerous for MN.

This is the true test for MN in determining their political co-operation against the backdrop of 74.61 per cent Malay voters, 10.42 per cent Chinese and 13.19 per cent Indians and the remaining others.

The yardstick is the racial breakdown and issues involved in the constituency.