PN’s poor parliamentary opposition performance won’t stop a landslide in the coming state elections

With so much focus upon the unity government, most have missed the poor parliamentary performance of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) opposition.

Murray Hunter

Although there have been a few reported spontaneous outbursts, the opposition within the Dewan Rakyat has been unfocused and lacklustre.

Earlier in June, the opposition boycotted the debate on the 2021 Auditor General’s report, which criticized the Muhyiddin Yassin government for leakages, non-compliance with regulations, and failure to follow conditions.

Many Bersatu and PAS MPs have only been attending parliament in a spasmodic manner. Of special note in PAS leader, Abdul Hadi Awang.

The opposition has failed to take up the critical issues facing Malaysia today. The falling Ringgit, poor performance of the Bursa KL, falling exports, and rising living costs provide much fodder for the opposition to take up, especially as the Anwar government has been inept on most of them.

Although, PN uses parliamentary question time to bring up issues, they coalition doesn’t see the Dewan Rakyat as a forum of importance. Voters rarely get to see the questions asked, or read the occasional news portal reports. There are a number of very capable PAS members like Dr Mohd Zuhdi Murzuli, Jaziri Alkaf Suffian, Mohd Apardi Mohamed, Aziz Ariffin, and Isaiah Jacob, among others.

Under siege by the media

PN leaders are under siege by the media. Muhyiddin Yassin is portrayed as a crook, and Hadi Awang as a racist and religious extremist. Without debating the merits of these claims, the PH-BN cybertrooper operations are going to town on these memes. PN’s leaders are talked up as wannabe evil and power-hungry politicians, which works extremely well in the urban areas.

However, PAS are using a very different playbook. PN social media supports the perception of the PN leadership as being focused on the mission of PAS. There is a focus upon community, and issues of religion. To PAS members Islam and community have a ‘oneness’, which cant be separated.

This is supported by the PAS education and community enclaves around the peninsula. When one travels to a PAS kampong, they will know it. In this way PAS is not a political party, but a community eco-system. An Islamized government is a natural extension.

Anwar’s administration already has a counter strategy in place. The Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is censoring social media statements that breach the sensitive 3R issues (race, religion, and royalty). They are currently issuing a legal suit against Meta (Facebook) for not taking down material the MCMC deems offensive.

The perceived injustice done to PN politicians and repression of social media by the MCMC could well have a counter-effect.

UNDI 18 vote

As was the case in GE15, it was the UNDI 18 voters who voted overwhelmingly towards PN. This is to be expected, particularly within the rural areas, where many youths have gone to Islamic schools. The UNDI 18 voters, who have received religious education are more likely to be motivated to come out and vote than ether UMNO or Pakatan voters, who have some reservations about the unity government’s performance, especially on the economy.

Probable election outcomes

Its probable that PN, led by PAS can obtain a clean sweep of seats in both Kelantan and Terengganu. If voting patterns remain the same as the last general election last November, UMNO will be completely wiped out in both states. That would mean a loss of 8 seats in Kelantan and 10 seats in Terengganu.

Kedah is set to become a PN stronghold. PN is likely to raise its representation from 21 to at least 26 seats, in the 36 seat state assembly.

The DAP led PH government in Penang should hold onto government, but with a reduced majority. PN should be able to win between 6 to 14 seats in Malay majority seats on the mainland.

Selangor will be a bitterly fought election campaign, where it will be a major challenge to hold onto government. In the recently dissolved state assembly, PH-BN held 49 seats between them, and PN 7 seats, in the 56 seat assembly. Its possible PN could win up to 25 seats, where PH-BN just hold on by a slim majority.

Negeri Sembilan will be the most difficult for PN. The most likely result would be that PN picks up only a couple of seats. However, if PN performed very well, it might be able to win up to 11 seats, which would fall short of the 19 seats needed to form a government.

A very strong performance by PN in the coming state elections, will put credence into the idea that PH-BN was an accidental government, which will dent legitimacy. This would further push the unity government towards its pseudo-Islamic agenda.