Deadlock in PH as Rafizi rejects ‘big tent’ despite polls data on Malay support
Recent surveys show that Malay support for the opposition coalition is ‘at the lowest’.
(MalaysiaNow) – A series of negotiations on the upcoming general election involving senior leaders from Pakatan Harapan (PH) appears to have ended in stalemate, with PKR’s Rafizi Ramli locking horns with coalition partners over the “big tent” idea on the back of recent polls showing “negligible support” from Malay voters, MalaysiaNow has learnt.
It is understood that, as a result, the coalition has no choice but to try for more time.
Leaders were told, among others, to highlight problems such as high inflation and the expected annual floods in the hope of quashing any move to dissolve Parliament this year.
At least two leaders involved in a recent PH retreat spoke to MalaysiaNow on how Rafizi had dismissed any suggestion of PH forming a big tent with rival parties to defeat the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN).
“Rafizi has rejected any attempt at discussing an extension of the big tent to include parties like Bersatu, despite different opinion polls suggesting that the former PH party still commands huge support among the Malays who will not vote for Umno,” a senior source from Amanah told MalaysiaNow, speaking about a recent retreat attended by PH leaders to discuss the 15th general election (GE15) which must be called by the middle of next year.
The big tent first mooted by PH leaders refers to an electoral strategy to cooperate with non-PH parties, with the main goal of averting the full-blown return of BN to federal power.
It is thought that in order to achieve this, they must avoid multi-cornered clashes in constituencies where only one-to-one contests could defeat BN.
The call for a big tent was renewed in the aftermath of the Melaka and Johor state elections, where the crucial Malay vote – which had until 2018 eluded PH parties – had gone to BN and Bersatu.
The majority of post-electoral analyses on the Melaka and Johor polls agreed that Bersatu had eaten into the opposition Malay votes, leading to PKR’s wipeout in both states.
The casualties were PKR and Amanah, whose candidates largely lost the problematic Malay-dominated multiracial seats, in contrast to DAP which won handsomely in safe seats dominated by the ethnic Chinese vote bank.
In the aftermath of the elections, some PH leaders broke ranks with their parties’ official stance to keep PN out of the big tent.
They included Amanah deputy president Salahuddin Ayub, who urged fellow opposition leaders to include Bersatu and PAS in their discussions.
In recent months, however, leaders in DAP and Amanah have been more careful about responding to speculation on working with PN – in particular Bersatu, the party they blame for the Sheraton Move which led to the collapse of the PH government in 2020.