State election results will determine support for unity govt, say analysts

They say if PH and BN perform poorly, then both GPS and GRS may reassess their positions.

(FMT) – The upcoming state elections will determine whether the two ruling coalitions in East Malaysia will continue to back the unity government or form an alliance with Perikatan Nasional (PN), analysts say.

Zaini Othman of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) told FMT that based on the strategy taken by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) in the past, it would likely take a “wait-and-see” approach.

Such an approach was both practical and pragmatic, he said.

“GPS will only react, respond and make moves that will benefit Sarawak.

“So, the bottom line for GPS to ‘stay or jump ship’ depends on Sarawak’s interests first,” he said.

Azizuddin Sani of Universiti Utara Malaysia echoed a similar sentiment, adding that if Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional did not perform well in the state elections, both GPS and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) were likely to reassess their positions.

However, he said, it was highly unlikely for there to be en bloc party hopping as PN did not have the numbers currently.

It is difficult for the opposition to come into power without an election, Azizuddin said.

“I don’t think they (GPS and GRS) will want to be part of a smaller majority administration,” he said, referring to the current 148 unity government MPs in the Dewan Rakyat.

“And I doubt if Umno is going to defect en bloc, as they will be a minority in that coalition. They may not be granted the deputy prime minister’s post.”

If the 10 BN MPs as well as GRS and GPS join PN, the new federal administration will only have 113 MPs.

Earlier this week, GPS parliamentary chief whip Fadillah Yusof denied allegations the coalition was out to topple Anwar Ibrahim’s administration, saying it was fully focused on economic recovery and public well-being instead of politicking.

MCA chief Wee Ka Siong also denied the rumour that he and Wee Jeck Seng plan on scuttling the unity government.

Meanwhile, Oh Ei Sun of Singapore’s Institute of International Affairs said that if the 10 BN MPs decided to defect, it could influence GRS and GPS to hop en bloc.

And these MPs only needed to declare that they no longer supported Anwar without leaving their respective parties, he said.

However, both Azizuddin and Zaini disagreed, saying defections could only be done en bloc if the party decided to do so.

Azizuddin said it was unlikely that BN MPs would want to defect.

“They will automatically lose their seats and a by-election will be called. And they may not win the by-election, seeing that voters generally vote for the party,” he said.