5 factors that could set PH’s fate in Selangor polls
Saving Selangor should be Pakatan Harapan’s highest priority. The worry is that PH may be over confident.
(FMT) – Selangor is the jewel in the crown, as far as West Malaysian politics go.
The state consists of four major cities Shah Alam, Klang, Kajang, and Petaling Jaya and a number of rural and coastal areas that gives the state some semblance of rural Malaysia.
Selangor has both industry and agriculture, and the state’s population has crept just above 7 million people.
When Pakatan Rakyat seized the state during the 2008 electoral tsunami, it sent shockwaves through Barisan Nasional, partly leading to the political demise of then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Fast forward to 2023, Pakatan Harapan now shares federal power with the Barisan Nasional, and parties from Sabah and Sarawak. In Selangor, PH and BN has 45 out of the 56 seats in the state assembly.
The state assembly’s term ends on June 26. Elections must be held before Aug 25. Many believe the elections may occur as early as May.
The mood on the PH side is varied, ranging from high confidence to deep concern for the coming election. However, based upon the voting pattern of the “green wave” at the 2022 general election, Selangor is due to be hit hard.
The big question is to what degree?
There are a number of new factors that may influence the result of the coming state elections that didn’t exist during GE15.
The low popularity of the unity government: As time goes on the Anwar Ibrahim government is very quickly losing popularity. The hard line on reforming the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act or Sosma and Anwar’s appointment of his daughter Nurul Izzah as an economic advisor have disappointed many supporters.
Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s presence as deputy prime minister taints the government. Any honeymoon for Anwar evaporated very quickly.
There is a possibility that hope for the Anwar government is turning into a feeling of hopelessness, where the electorate turns against the government as they did in by-elections during the last PH government.
PH lost five in a row in 2019. We must remember when MCA candidate Wee Jeck Seng lost his seat in Tanjung Piai to PH during GE14 in 2018, only to win his seat back with a majority of 15,086 votes in the 2019 by-election.
Such a swing would completely wipe out the current Selangor government and see a Perikatan Nasional government in Shah Alam.
The Zahid effect: Many speak of a “green wave” in GE15. However, how much of the result was really due to the Zahid effect? Many see Umno’s poor performance in the general election as voters rejecting the corruption within Umno.
Zahid, who is Umno president, enjoyed a short honeymoon with PH voters due to his efforts in the formation of Anwar’s government. However, his move to postpone party elections for the top two posts, and the sacking of those who oppose him within the party, will likely lead to a great exodus from Umno to Bersatu.
Zahid still has to face his day in court over more criminal charges, which will remind the public of corruption. There can be no lying low for him. Zahid will continue to be an electoral liability, which Anwar and PKR will pay dearly for. The beneficiary will be Bersatu, especially in the seats Umno will try to defend.
The Azmin factor: This is unknown and very complex. Word is that Azmin Ali is determined to recover from the loss of his parliamentary seat and return to his old post as menteri besar of Selangor, leading a PN government. He has a massive war-chest to spend.
Azmin may have to work hard to retain his own state seat of Bukit Antarabangsa, or move to a safer seat. However, he was well respected as menteri besar and has some leverage in the state, even though he is seen as a political turncoat in other areas.
To the Malay heartlands within Selangor, Azmin has been loyal to the “Malay cause”.
This doesn’t mean Azmin is not tarnished. He was defeated by the current menteri besar, Amirudin Shari, in his old parliamentary seat of Gombak at the last general election.
Gauging the Azmin factor will be very interesting. A big win would project Azmin as the next generation of Malay-centric politicians. A loss may send him into the political wilderness.
Other factors: What the Anwar government does before the Selangor state elections will influence the result.
Will Anwar be consistent with Malaysia Madani? Will the coming 2023 budget be formulated in mind for the coming state elections? How will current menteri besar Amirudin perform on the hustings, facing his first election as leader? What will happen to Bersatu in the quickly emerging party funds scandal?
The youth vote: This is the first time the Undi18 demographic will vote in the Selangor state elections. The Undi18 vote in Selangor should benefit PN within the seats that are likely to change. This could give PN another 3-5% support in the voting booths.
There is still a lot of time, politically speaking, before polling, allowing voters to change their minds in any direction.
The first issue is avoiding three-cornered fights between PH and Umno. There is plenty to suggest both groups will face the voters on a “‘unity government”’ platform.
This may not benefit PH, with Umno tainted by the Zahid factor. Umno needs PH more than PH needs Umno in Selangor.
There will be great complexity in coming to any seat allocation agreement. Umno did not win any federal seats in Selangor in the general election.
State seats currently held by Umno, including Sungai Air Tawar, Sungai Panjang, Hulu Bernam, Sungai Burong, and Semenyih, all look in danger of falling.
In addition, with the former Umno Selangor chief Nor Omar sacked from the party, it can be assumed many Umno grassroot members will just sit out the polls. Umno is a liability to Pakatan.
Negotiations between PH and Umno must be held with the above realities in mind. Bersatu and PAS are eyeing these seats.
Currently, PH and Umno hold 49 seats between them. PN holds seven seats. DAP should hold most, if not all of their seats.
However, the DAP leadership are planning another purge of long-time party stalwarts like Ronnie Liu from their candidate line-up. Liu won his seat of Sungai Pelek with a 6,586 vote majority. Liu’s absence may place the Malay majority seat in jeopardy for the DAP, which will greatly favour PN.
The Padang Serai by-election, held just after the general election, resulted in 80% of Malay voters supporting PN. Anecdotal evidence indicates the Indian community is disappointed there is only one Indian member in Anwar’s cabinet.
This could potentially result in an onslaught on PH seats. Ijok, Bukit Malawati, Jeram, Kuang, Taman Templer, Hulu Damansara, Kota Damansara, Kota Anggrik, and Batu Tiga, in a worst case scenario, could all be under threat.
The PN leadership are confident of winning 33 out of 56 seats, which would win them the Selangor government. However, it’s more probable that PH-Umno will hold on to 31 seats, while PN would win around 25 seats.
This result is in line with voting patterns in the last general election, still allowing PH to hold on to the government with a reduced majority.
If seats like Morib, Sementa, Permatang, and Batang Kali fall, then PN would most probably win the state. Saving Selangor should be Pakatan Harapan’s highest priority. The worry is that PH may be over confident.