Will Selangor, Negri Sembilan or Sabah follow in the footsteps of four states?
NOW that the Pakatan Harapan state governments of Johor, Melaka, Perak and Kedah have fallen, which state is next?
The fall of the four Pakatan-ruled states was a domino effect after the Pakatan ruling coalition self-destructed in February.
It was replaced by Perikatan Nasional consisting of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, Barisan Nasional (Umno, MCA, MIC and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah), PAS, Gabungan Parti Sarawak, Sabah Star and Parti Bersatu Sabah.
The four state governments collapsed when assemblymen from Bersatu, PKR (those aligned to former party deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali) and DAP (rogue leaders) joined forces with Barisan and PAS. Perikatan now rules these states.
The question now is – will the domino effect happen in Selangor, Negri Sembilan or Sabah?
Why Johor, Melaka, Perak and Kedah fell will indicate if there will be more states to follow suit, according to Universiti Utara Malaysia political lecturer Prof Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani.
Among the reasons why the Melaka, Perak and the Kedah governments were toppled was because Pakatan held them with a marginal majority, he said.
In Perak, it was Pakatan 29, Umno 27 and PAS three. Pakatan formed the state government in 2018 when two Umno assemblymen defected to become independents.
In Melaka, it was Pakatan 15 and Barisan 13. In Kedah, it was Pakatan 18, Umno 3 and PAS 13.
Pakatan had a comfortable margin in Johor with 36 assemblymen, Barisan 19 and PAS one. But when Bersatu and rogue PKR assemblymen combined with Barisan and PAS in February, the Pakatan state government was toppled.
“The four states fell due to the switching of camps in Bersatu and PKR. The Umno and PAS factor was always there but not enough to change the state government. In a nutshell, the internal bickering of Bersatu and PKR led to the fall of Pakatan-led state governments, ” said Universiti Teknologi Malaysia geo-strategist Prof Dr Azmi Hassan.
The only two states held by the Opposition in which the GE14 results were marginal are Negri Sembilan – Pakatan 20 (Bersatu did not win a seat) and Barisan 16 – and Sabah where Barisan had 29 seats, Parti Warisan Sabah/Pakatan 29 and Sabah Star two. But with defections, the Warisan/Pakatan/Upko state government has 43 seats and Umno/Bersatu/PBS/Sabah Star 17.
In Selangor, Pakatan has 43 (PKR 19, DAP 16 and Amanah eight), Bersatu seven, Umno five and PAS one.
“The most precarious state government among the three is Negri Sembilan since the majority is quite slim. Selangor and Sabah, for the time being, are safe since the state governments (led by Pakatan and Warisan respectively) have a healthy majority, ” said Prof Azmi.
With the ongoing internal bickering in Bersatu and PKR, he said the respective assemblymen have to make a choice between Bersatu chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and its president and Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, or between PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his former deputy Datuk Seri Azmin Ali.
“The current political situation in Malaysia, as I see it, can be categorised as one of a herd mentality where you need only one state representative to switch camps and this will be followed by other representatives, ” he said.
Even though Selangor and Sabah governments seem to be safe, Prof Azmi cautioned that it would only take one assemblyman to be “recalcitrant” to create a snowball effect.
“Rumours of representatives switching camps in Sabah is enough to rattle the state government, ” he said, adding: “If the Negri Sembilan government changes hand, then most probably Selangor and Sabah are not safe.”
Political analyst Mohd Rahezzal Shah pointed out that whether Warisan could hold on to power in Sabah “depends on who makes the first move”.
“It will take just one YB to switch sides to trigger a movement. There might be wait-and-see assemblymen not willing to make the switch as they don’t want to be the first to make a move, ” said the Universiti Teknologi Mara lecturer in Sabah.
“The YBs will come out with their own ‘out of love’ story – not getting enough funds, not being treated fairly by the Chief Minister, having a strained relationship with other YBs, it being the wish of their constituents and plenty more excuses, ” he said.
“But the easiest, most popular and commonly used excuse will be ‘kehendak rakyat’ (the desire of the people) which is quite impressive as there are no systematic polls to gauge the sentiment on the ground, but yet the YB can somehow have the ability to determine what the rakyat want.”
Prof Mohd Azizuddin however does not think that the Negri, Selangor and Sabah governments held by the Opposition would fall.
“Pakatan has a majority of four (seats) in Negri Sembilan. Yes, it needs only three defections for it to fall.
“But they don’t have any Bersatu assemblyman (who is likely to jump). So, the possibility of an assemblyman defecting is low, ” he added.
Prof Mohd Azizuddin acknowledged that the Negri government could be ousted if at least three PKR assemblymen from the Azmin camp defected.
He also said the possibility of Selangor government falling was unlikely because the margin of Pakatan’s command in the state was huge, he said.
“Even though there are PKR assemblymen, including the Selangor MB, being linked to Azmin, they have decided to stay with the party to be with Anwar, ” he said.
The domino effect remains in motion, and political operatives are strategising for the Opposition states to fall.