‘Green wave’ will thwart multiracial Penang govt, says analyst

(FMT) – It will be difficult for Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional to form a multiracial state government in Penang as envisioned by Penang PH chief Chow Kon Yeow, say political analysts.

Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said the “green wave” of support for Perikatan Nasional was likely to hand the coalition most or even all of the Malay-based seats.Another analyst, Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk, said Chow’s vision would be hampered by a severely weakened Umno, which was unlikely to deliver the Malay seats needed to form a multiracial state government.

The “green wave” refers to the unexpected gains made by PN in the 2022 general election when it wrested the parliamentary seats of Kepala Batas and Permatang Pauh from BN and PH, respectively.

Oh said the PH-BN coalition government should count itself extremely lucky if it could retain power in Penang.

DAP has led the state government for three terms since 2008.

In the Penang state assembly, PH holds 33 seats through DAP (19), PKR (12) and Amanah (2) while BN has two seats through Umno. The sole opposition member is from PAS. Four seats have been declared vacant.

Last month, a PN insider told FMT the coalition may contest 15 seats, of which 14 are Malay-majority.

On Saturday, Chow said PH and BN have set out to win as many state assembly seats as possible to ensure that Penang has a multiracial government.

More Malay candidates from DAP

Oh said DAP should consider fielding more Malay candidates in its strongholds if it wants to secure the formation of a multiracial PH-BN state government.

He said the party should not worry about a backlash from supporters because its diehard supporters would vote solely on the party logo “and nothing else”.

Asked whether such a move would be boycotted by incumbents, Oh said “they can only count themselves as being unlucky”.

“If they dare come out as independents, they should consider their deposits forfeited the moment they put them up (during nomination day),” he said.

Azeem, however, said it would be “quite awkward” for the party to field more Malay candidates in Penang as Chinese seats have always been its political base.

“Generally, DAP has always fielded Chinese candidates in Chinese- majority seats although it has made exceptions to the rule with (Seri Delima assemblyman) Syerleena Abdul Rashid and (Tanjung Bungah assemblyman) Zairil Khir Johari,” he told FMT.

Besides Penang, state elections are also due to be held this year in Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan.