Negeri Sembilan may be a bridge too far for PN
However, it won’t be plain sailing for PH and BN, which must still be very wise when allocating seats.
Negeri Sembilan is a very diverse state, just south of Klang Valley. It has industrial estates, palm oil estates, cement quarrying, tourist precincts, and a large spread of rural kampongs.
The population of Negeri Sembilan just reaches 1,100,000 people, where approximately 720,000 are eligible to vote in the coming state election, due before October this year. Negeri Sembilan is ethnically diverse with 56.6 percent of the population Malay, mainly Minangkabau, other Bumiputera groups making up 2.0 percent, with Chinese at 21.3 percent, and Indians at 14 percent. These groups are not uniformly dispersed throughout the state, and thus the ethnic mix influences electoral outcomes.
The current state government is Pakatan Harapan (PH), holding 20 seats in the state legislature, with the Barisan Nasional (BN) in opposition, holding 16 seats in the assembly. Both coalitions have combined to form a federal ‘unity government’ after GE15. In the coming state election, both groups are set to combine and run as a ‘unity coalition’.
The latest information is that both parties will run their respective candidates according to the seats they won in the 2018 state election, although this is not conformed.
Perikatan Nasional (PN) didn’t win any federal seats in Negeri Sembilan in GE15. Both PH and BN were untouchable by the so called ‘greenwave’. Nor did PN win any state seats in the last state election.
Although the PN leadership has pledged to capture the state in the coming state election, this might just be a ‘bridge too far.’
PH have the reasonably popular federal transport minister Anthony Loke, who holds the state seat of Chennah, and former Menteri Besar Mohamed Hasan, in the seat of Rantau, who is also federal defence minister, and the deputy president of UMNO to lead the campaign.
However, PAS has long nurtured kampong communities all over the central, south west, and south of the state. Support for PN in the seats of Sungei Lui, Seri Menanti, Senaling, Pilah, Johol, Labu, Puroi, Chembong, Gemas, and Gemencheh, can’t be underestimated.
If PN performed above expectations, this would give them up to 11 seats. However, this would be well short of the 19 seats needed to form a government. Nevertheless, this would embarrass the PH-BN coalition, who has no PN assembly members prior to the election.
The most likely result is that PN may be able to pick up a couple of seats in Negeri Sembilan, and sit isolated in a PH-BN packed assembly.
It would be very difficult for PN to pick up non-Malay votes, with the history of racial ranting by PAS that has gone on of late. This could possibly scare the non-Malay vote. PN could run some Gerakan candidates in Chinese majority seats. However, Gerakan isn’t strong in Negeri Sembilan.