Defections only a short-term gain for PN, says analyst

(FMT) – WITH Dr Xavier Jayakumar being the latest MP to resign from his party to back the government, a political analyst believes that defections will provide Perikatan Nasional with only short-term stability.

Political observer Azmi Hassan, a former academic, said the few extra MPs would not benefit the coalition at the next general election as it now had to arrange for more seat allocations among its added representatives.

He expected this to “create turmoil” within PN’s component parties, as there could be clashes over certain seats.

“When (these MPs) won their seats during the last elections, it was not solely based on individual popularity but on the party they represented as well. So in the long term, it is in fact disadvantageous to PN,” Azmi told FMT.

He said it would be no surprise if more MPs switched allegiance on the pretext of helping the government to manage the pandemic. “Xavier will not be the last to quit his party in support of PN.”

Recently, Xavier announced his resignation as vice-president and member of PKR, adding that he would continue to serve his constituency, Kuala Langat, and support the government as an independent MP.

Last month, Julau MP Larry Sng and Tebrau MP Steven Choong quit PKR to declare their support for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Political analyst Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said Xavier’s departure would affect PKR’s parliamentary strength and its president Anwar Ibrahim’s bid towards becoming prime minister.

“It lays bare the fact that if he cannot even hold his own party together, what more potentially put together a ruling coalition,” he said.

Oh said it was doubtful if the defectors could be re-elected to their parliamentary seats, which were won under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) banner.

However, given that votes of no confidence would not be able to take place anytime soon, he said the current government will remain in power for now.

James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said Xavier’s resignation would demoralise PKR as a party, as it was likely that more would switch sides after being offered incentives to jump.

According to Chin, there were also rumours that two more opposition MPs may leave their parties to back Muhyiddin.

He added that it was likely GE15 was not part of Muhyiddin’s immediate plans, as his most important task for now was strengthening the government and “surviving the Parliament sitting, which will probably be after the emergency.”