The PPBM power play behind its open door gambit

(FMT) – Political analysts say that PPBM will struggle to win over non-Malay support even if it opens up leadership positions to non-Malays. But the proposal, announced yesterday, might be a strategic move to balance its clout against Umno and PKR.

As PPBM has already established itself as a party for the Malay community, it will struggle to gain non-Malay supporters and convince its grassroot members to open up to others.

But the proposed new chapter for non-Malay members, announced by party leader Muhyiddin Yassin, could be a step towards PPBM widening its voter base to compete against Umno and PKR.

PPBM currently allows non-Malays to join the party as associate members but they cannot hold leadership positions.

Political analyst Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya told FMT there will be apprehension among grassroot members as the party was founded to help Bumiputeras.

“If they make this change, it means the party’s objectives have steered away from fighting for the Malay race. Opening up to various other races will not make them any different from PKR or DAP,” he said.

Azman said the Chinese and Malay communities have already established confidence in DAP and PKR and PPBM would find it tough to win supporters.

However, analyst Syed Arabi Idid of International Islamic University Malaysia said the new policy could be a strategic move to rival Umno.

He said: “PPBM has PAS as a partner in Perikatan Nasional. PAS support plus the extra MPs brought by the Azmin Ali faction, will give PPBM a stronger voice when dealing with Umno.

“Umno has MCA and MIC in Barisan Nasional, so if PPBM opens up to non-Malays it can also compete against BN. All this is conjecture, but they appear to be making strategic moves,” Syed Arabi said.

Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia agrees. He says PPBM’s two partners are specifically parties for the Malays.

“Among the three PN members, only PPBM has the means to widen its voter base. Umno and PAS are too entrenched with the Malay voters,” he said.

“Currently PKR is regarded as PPBM’s competition in terms of non-Malay support.

PKR has an added advantage since they have DAP as a partner in Pakatan Harapan. But PPBM has Umno and PAS. This is not an added leverage to gain non-Malay votes. It’s going to be an uphill task for PPBM.”

Commenting on Azmin’s decision not to run for office in PPBM, Azmi said it should not be a problem for the senior minister as he was already a favoured member in the party, but only for the time being.

“Azmin, in the near future, should run for office since he needs to gauge his popularity and influence in the party. The only way to do that is to enter a contest.”