Johor Polls: BN won because Pakatan is weak, expert says

(Focus Malaysia) – With Barisan Nasional (BN) in a euphoria over its win in the Johor state election, an analyst has cautioned the coalition over taking things for granted.

“The reason why BN won is not because the people love them but it’s due to the Opposition being weak. This is the same case in the UK between the Conservative Party and Labour Party.

“Don’t think that the second state election win shows that the people are embracing BN back in their arms wholeheartedly,” Arunachala Research & Consultancy Sdn Bhd principal consultant R Paneir Selvam told FocusM.

Yesterday, BN won a two-thirds majority at the Johor state legislative assembly by securing 40 out of the 56 seats contested.

Pakatan Harapan only managed to win 12 seats while Perikatan Nasional only won three seats.

New kid on the block, the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) surprised analysts by winning one state seat, which is Puteri Wangsa.

Elaborating on BN’s win, Paneir Selvam said there was another reason which also helped the coalition to win Johor; distancing itself from PAS.

“PAS does not have much traction in Johor. So, when UMNO disassociated itself from the Islamist party, that brought back the non-Muslims to the coalition’s fold,” he opined.

On Pakatan’s drubbing, Paneir Selvam said that the people, yet again, have shown that they are displeased with its leadership and their direction following its ouster from Putrajaya in 2020.

“In 2018, Pakatan won due to the promises made in its election manifesto but when they ignored it, the people fumed.

“Back then, Pakatan was seen as saviours while BN was perceived as corrupt and had lost touch with the ground. So, expectations on the former were higher,” he opined.

Paneir Selvam added that voters also could not fathom the logic in Pakatan signing a memorandum of understanding with BN, and by extension Perikatan Nasional, which the former themselves had referred to as corrupt and treacherous in the past.

Queried on what Pakatan’s needs to do to “reinvent” itself, the analyst pointed out that the current crop of leadership team should make way for new blood to take over.

“And get rid of their advisory team. Obviously, these people are giving them bad advice.

“In any political party or organisation, you need advisers who can tell their bosses the cold hard-truth, not just telling tall tales so as to please their leaders’ ears,” he stressed.

Offering a general perspective, he urged Pakatan’s top leadership to move into advisory roles and allow younger generation to take over the helm to “resuscitate” the coalition, especially PKR.

“PKR needs young leaders like its vice president Rafizi Ramli to make a political comeback. Remember, he was also instrumental in drafting Pakatan’s election manifesto for the 2018 General Election,” Paneir Selvam quipped.

Younger voters scrutinise principles

He also offered the same advise to BN, urging them to return to the coalition’s founding principles during the Alliance times.

“Firstly, get rid of the ‘court cluster’. Other senior leaders should move to advisory roles and allow young leaders to take over the helm. This goes to MCA and MIC too.

“Remember that this is the first time Undi18 took place. Listen to the voice of the younger generation,” Paneir Selvam urged.

While he agreed that there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics, the academic reminded politicians that young voters do scrutinise their leaders’ principles more compared to their seniors.

“The younger generation looks at your principles and scrutinise them. I know this because I work with young people across racial and religious backgrounds.

“So I advise both BN and Pakatan to stick to your core principles if you want to survive in politics for years to come.

“Look at Parti Pejuang Tanah Air. They got trounced badly not only because there were too many parties contesting, it was also because their policies are outdated.

“However, the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) won the Puteri Wangsa seat because they offered something fresh to the voters,” Paneir Selvam concluded.