Prof: Survival of Anwar’s unity govt hinges on upcoming six state elections

The outcome of the upcoming six state elections in the states of Selangor, Penang, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu will determine the survival of newly elected Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s unity government.

(The Borneo Post) – Dr James Chin, a professor of Asian Studies at University of Tasmania, gave this view in an interview here yesterday, saying the outcome of these six state elections would also determine whether the ‘green wave’ is real.

“There is a big argument at the federal level whether or not the green wave is real or not. If it is real, then it will fundamentally change the character of the country because the way the electoral system is structured in Malaysia, electorally, it is always the rural Malay constituencies that affect the majority.

“Malaysia has always been a country where it either elects an all-Malay government or ‘Malay-plus’ government. It is not possible for the non-Malays to capture the government because the majority are the Malays,” he said.

In the Malay seats, Chin argued that the classic model was either one chooses Umno or PAS, except in the 2018 General Election (GE) where the rural Malay votes were split between Umno, PAS and Bersatu.

He argued that if all the Malays and core Malays areas support PAS in the coming state elections in the six states, it is then proven that there is a political realignment in the country.

Chin added that the traditional model was that Umno always wins the larger bloc in rural Malay areas, except in the 2018 GE.

Despite the split in votes among Malay voters to Umno, PAS and Bersatu, Chin argued that it was still two-way model because Bersatu is a ‘clone’ of Umno.

“And if they choose to vote for PAS in these six state elections, then this is a permanent realignment.

“If there is permanent realignment that the Malays have shifted (by voting for PAS), then he (Anwar) for sure wants to get reelected and shift to the Islamic side,” he opined.

Another important factor, Chin pointed out, is whether the people accept the unity government where Umno plays a major role in the Cabinet.

He said Umno with 30 seats had a high percentage in terms of positions in Anwar’s cabinet.

“They said Sabah and Sarawak are the winners – it is not true. Sabah and Sarawak are only winners in terms of deputy ministers where they are about 48 per cent.

“But in terms of key ministries, it is all divided between PKR and Umno. And the key thing is that will Umno win back the Malay ground and whether Zahid (Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi) will survive because some people said that Zahid will be challenged (for the Umno president post).

Chin added that in the event that Umno fails to win the Malays vote and that there is a change in the Umno leadership, there is no guarantee that they will stay in the unity government.

“The anti-hopping law works this time because previously, you jump individually. Now the only way for you to jump ‘halal’ is you jump as a whole group – as a party.

“To me, it is not just one Umno (MP) pulls out, or two Umno pull out. It must be 30 pulling out, (then) the government collapses.

“Without the anti-hopping law, you can jump but you can limit the damage. Now you cannot (limit the damage) if the whole group jumps out. This is the unintended consequences of this thing (law),” he said.