‘Unlikely any coalition will get enough seats in GE15 to form government’

(NST) – The marriage of inconvenience between Umno and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) is getting rocky and the reality is, the two do not possess enough support to win the 15th General Election (GE15) separately.

Analysts insisted that no single coalition, be it Barisan Nasional (BN), Pakatan Harapan (PH) or Perikatan Nasional (PN), could get the minimum 112 seats in the Dewan Rakyat on its own given the messy state of the country’s political affairs.

This, they say, includes even if Pas, which has 18 seats in the Dewan Rakyat, works with either one of the coalitions, thus ending Pas’ turn of previously being crowned the “kingmaker”.

At the moment, PH has 89 seats in the Lower House while BN has 42 and PN (including Pas) has 53.

The current kingmakers, according to Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian, are political parties from the Borneo states, especially the Sarawak-based alliance – Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) which also has 18 seats in the House.

“We tend to forget the importance of seats in Sabah and Sarawak. We only focus extensively on peninsular seats when the parties there are the actual kingmakers.

“If BN, PN and PH enter GE15 separately, there will be many multiple-cornered fights, which means there will be split votes in the peninsular.

“When this happens, the three coalitions will have to rely heavily on Borneo parties and their seats,” he told the New Straits Times.

Recently, it was reported that Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had sent a letter to Bersatu president and Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Feb 26, saying that the Umno Supreme Council had decided against working with Bersatu in GE15.

The decision was said to have been made during the Umno supreme council meeting held in Janda Baik, Pahang on February 19 after an overwhelming majority of Umno divisional leaders expressed their desire to discontinue cooperation with Bersatu and instead focus on strengthening their alliance with Pas under Muafakat Nasional.

However, Sivamurugan said it would be wise to wait for this year’s Umno General Assembly, expected to be held sometime in the middle of this year, to find out if the decision to sever ties with Bersatu represents the voice of Umno members nationwide.

“What happens at the yearly Umno general assembly is important to take note of because any decisions made there represent the whole party.”

Should the decision to sever ties remain, Universiti Malaya’s Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi suggested for all political players to test their luck in a “free-for-all” way when contesting in GE15.

“This way, all parties can finally see which seats they are the strongest at and this can resolve seat allocation issues in future general elections. The ‘free-for-all’ concept would be the best approach for GE15,” he said.

Universiti Teknologi MARA’s political and social media analyst Prof Dr Sara Chinnasamy believes that Malaysians would be looking at another unity government post GE15, exactly the way it is now where Umno is only lending its support to the ruling PN coalition.

“GE15 will be a stiff fight and most likely, none of the coalitions will have the majority to win (on its own). So, we could end up having a unity government after GE15,” she said.

Since a unity government is expected, Awang Azman said the “free-for-all” concept should be considered.

“Every party should contest at whichever seats they want. After GE15 results are out, they can all start conducting negotiations on forming a new government.

“Decide then who wants to be with whom (to form a government) instead of waking up feeling restless every day right now,” he said.