State elections: will Penang’s voters forgive Pakatan’s ‘compromises’?
The long-standing animosity between Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional has turned into disillusionment in Penang and could affect voting patterns when the state election is held sometime around the middle of this year, says Universiti Sains Malaysia political science professor Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid.
IAN MCINTYRE, THE VIBES
Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Barisan Nasional (BN) may be allies in the federal unity government, but this alliance may not be of much benefit to either coalition in Penang’s upcoming state election, an analyst said.
Penang voters who are highly partisan still struggle to accept the decision by both the former enemies to work together, said Universiti Sains Malaysia political science professor Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid.
Their long-standing animosity has turned into disillusionment and could affect voting patterns when the state election is held sometime around the middle of this year, he said.
“It will result in a drop in support for either of the two coalitions in Penang when the next state election swings around,” Fauzi told The Vibes.
“This is a unique situation for both BN and PH to grasp in Penang.”
BN first lost control of Penang in the 2008 elections. In successive polls since then, DAP-PH have returned to power in the state, even while the party and coalition were in the federal opposition.
Die-hard supporters of either side may not agree with the politics of compromise between former foes in forming a unity government, and recent political appointments from BN by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim may make PH supporters feel he is compromising too much to ensure that his government stays intact.
Fauzi said these sentiments could see both BN and PH supporters either staying home or spoiling their ballots when the election is called here.
Others may sway towards the third coalition, Perikatan Nasional (PN), which made unforeseen inroads into PH-held states at the federal level in the general election last November.
These areas include constituencies in Penang that border Kedah, which is governed by PAS, a component of PN.
It won’t be a straightforward state election in Penang, Fauzi said, but PH still has a chance to defend the state.
PH will have to address the narrative that it has compromised too much for the sake of power, while BN will have to address views that Umno remains corrupt and is no longer serving the people’s interests, the analyst said.
It is the “corrupt” label that drives segments of the Malay vote to remain entrenched with PN, he added.
Currently, PN holds one seat in the 40-seat Penang assembly through Penaga assemblyman Yusni Mat Piah of PAS. Four other PN seats were recently vacated as their assemblymen had defected in violation of the state’s anti-party hopping enactment.
The four assemblymen are Khaliq Mehtab Mohd Ishaq (Bertam), Zolkifly Md Lazim (Teluk Bahang), Dr Afif Bahardin (Seberang Jaya), and Zulkifli Ibrahim (Sg Acheh). It is speculated that PN will re-field them in the state election.
Fauzi also noted plans by Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) to contest 15 state seats in Penang.
PRM is expected to field its deputy president Datuk Mohamed Ezam Mohd Nor and Penang PRM leader Teh Yee Cheu, who was formerly with DAP.