How Much Is Harapan Willing To Concede To Umno In State Polls
“A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.” - Baltasar Gracian
The upcoming state polls in Pakatan Harapan-controlled states are going to determine how much power Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has left in Umno, which also determines how long this unity government survives.
All these wonderful committees the prime minister of Madaniville is setting up means bupkis.
Harapan has to play defence and keep its territories. Meanwhile, Perikatan Nasional (PN) really does not have much to worry about when it comes to the states it controls.
The reality is that the “ketuanan system” is more flexible when it comes to power-sharing only because rewards trump any form of good governance.
This is not about working as a “team”. There is no team, there is just Umno and Harapan. The political stability offered by Harapan-controlled states is even more important now because PN-controlled states are a miasma of theocratic diktats, coupled with mismanagement which PN and its supporters seem oblivious to.
It all boils down to how much Harapan as a power bloc is willing to concede to Umno to maintain the façade of unity but more importantly, will folks vote for Umno and by extension BN component parties like MCA and MIC?
MIC has already made it clear that it thinks it is irrelevant in BN, with MIC deputy president M Saravanan claiming, “Not only have there been no meetings, but it also looks as if we (MIC) don’t exist.
“I hope we will have a meeting (among BN components) soon as we are looking at state elections in another four to six months.”
The Malay polity, like the non-Malay polity, has realised that they do not need Umno/BN anymore. What PN has demonstrated (admittedly through a compromised electoral system) is that the worst forms of racialism and religiosity are politically sustainable and that there is no need for the fig leaf of inclusivity.
MIC deputy president M SaravananUmno, at this point, cannot afford to carry MCA and MIC, because it needs every seat to remain a threat to Harapan and PN.
Already the whisper network of disgruntled Zahid refuseniks are laying the groundwork for electoral sabotage and this means not only has Harapan got to handle its own business it also has to handle Umno’s.
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said that the electoral committee “…. will deal with electoral matters of course and seat negotiations as well as focus their work to ensure we have a solid base in facing the upcoming state elections”.
In January, Selangor BN was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about working with Harapan. However, Selangor DAP deputy chief Ean Yong Hian Wah said - "We will defend all our seats."
Meanwhile, MCA said it would not be left out in the cold. Selangor MCA chief Ng Chok Sin said - "If you (Harapan) want a unity government, yet you decline to give way (to BN), then we have to go solo and this may shake the cooperation in the federal government too."
How much it would shake the cooperation in the federal government remains to be seen because MCA does not have any leverage but this would provide more ammunition to the theocratic alliance to use on the Malay polity.
Already PN propagandists are planting the seeds that the MCA is irrelevant and that the DAP cannot share power. This is not so much for a non-Malay audience but rather as a reminder to the Malays – especially young voters – of how much influence the DAP has in Harapan.
Final nail in the coffin for BN?
What the state and federal elections have demonstrated is that there is really no BN. That ship has sailed. Sailed and sunk.
Everyone knows it but this state election will be the final kick on the dead horse - which is BN. All that remains is that how Umno will fare and how much they can extract from Harapan.
How many seats is DAP willing to give MCA and will the DAP be able to convince the base to vote for MCA?
The prime minister paints a rosy picture but the reality of elections is getting folks to show up and this means an influential urban party like DAP is going to have to work the ground for its allies, whoever they are.
Not to mention, seat allocation would also cause problems between state divisions and central command. All this of course would be played out in the press and while this may not shake the support of voters, it would mean another round of bad press which could put off fence sitters or even encourage voter apathy.
This unity government does not have a solid base. The only party which has a solid, reliable base is DAP and this has been vitally important in maintaining not only the wobbly democratic guard rails but also the country’s economy.
Harapan cannot afford a ramshackle alliance to cling on to power in the states it controls, while the economy goes down the crapper.
This, of course, is what PN political operatives are hoping for and from their text and emails, what they are impatiently waiting for is how a Harapan win is defined. What would it cost Harapan to hold on to these states?
If Harapan retains states with a ramshackle coalition, then this would make it easier for PN to plot mischief in Harapan states.
If Umno fares badly in these state elections, not only would it weaken Harapan but demonstrate that the unity government does not have the mandate it needs to push through on its promised reforms, spending all its time fending off attacks from PN.
Furthermore, can Harapan supporters trust Umno operatives? Keep in mind, this is the ultimate backdoor for Umno/BN to get back into controlling or meddling in a crown jewel like Selangor.
The formula has to be just right or Umno could end up having more influence in state assemblies, which works in favour of PN more than it does Harapan.
I have no idea the kind of due diligence that goes on during seat negotiations but keep in mind that it is entirely conceivable that PN may get in “sleepers” or outright proxies into state assemblies.
This, in turn, would cause the kind of instability that sweeps theocrats into power. Harapan should not take these elections for granted.
The opening quote alas (for now) applies to PN. - Mkini
S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. Fīat jūstitia ruat cælum - “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.
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