Much ground to cover before polls

  • Nation
  • Monday, 13 Jul 2020

PETALING JAYA: As speculation continues to swirl on the possibility of a snap general election, the reality is that both sides of the political divide have much ground to cover before “flag-off”. To start with, the ruling Perikatan Nasional has yet to be registered with the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

That aside, much time is being spent on stabilising the government, fighting Covid-19 and hastening economic recovery.

The chief whip of Perikatan, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali (pic), said earlier this month that parties should be ready for a general election “anytime”, only to cool things down on Friday by saying that the polls could be some time away.

“Focus on the economy and the country, that’s the priority,” he said.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has been spearheading the government’s response to the pandemic and the resulting economic fallout.

Over at Pakatan Harapan’s side, leaders within the Opposition bloc have been butting heads over who their prime ministerial candidate should be.

This led to Pakatan Plus announcing on July 10 that it will break away to be an Independent bloc.

Pakatan Plus is the moniker for the Opposition group led by former Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Parti Warisan Sabah chief Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

There is a deadlock with Pakatan saying it won’t budge from its choice of PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim while Pakatan Plus is adamant that it must be Dr Mahathir or Shafie.

The break within the Opposition camp will be there for all to see when the Dewan Rakyat goes into session beginning today, judging by seating arrangements.

While Barisan Nasional secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa said five representatives from each Perikatan component – Barisan Nasional, PAS and Bersatu – would discuss the seat allocation for the 15th General Election, Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Bersatu secretary-general Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin have spoken of internal issues which need to be resolved.

Hamzah, who is the Home Minister, is the man entrusted with ensuring that Perikatan is formalised as a proper coalition before the next general election is called.

“The registration of Perikatan is still in the making. The parties have separate constitutions so we hope they can all resolve their issues as quickly as possible,” said Hamzah when asked if a formal application had been submitted to the ROS.

Zahid agreed that there were matters to be ironed out “within and between” the Perikatan parties.

“Hamzah is correct to say that the parties in Perikatan must first solve their internal issues and deal with their constitutions,” he said, adding that Umno had to discuss the issue of being part of Perikatan in an emergency general meeting.

“This is likely to be held at the end of the year,” he said when asked if Umno could be part of both the Barisan and Perikatan.

Senior Umno figures refused to say if there was a consensus within the party supreme council on the party joining Perikatan formally and whether it would contest GE15 as part of Perikatan or Barisan.

As for Barisan partner MCA, which has two parliamentary seats, it is not taking chances.

Its president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said MCA was in a “fighting mode” and ready to face a snap general election.

The Transport Minister was in Johor on July 11 and declared that all its state party leaders had been ordered to make the necessary preparations.

MIC president Tan Sri S. Vigneswaran said whether parties would contest as part of Perikatan or Barisan was “no issue” to him.

“MIC believes that it is more about Barisan joining Perikatan. We are not abandoning Barisan so there is no need for an EGM to get a mandate.

“It is more of a coalition within a coalition. MIC will discuss this and we will also be deliberating on Muakafat Nasional (loose coalition between Umno and PAS),” added the former Dewan Negara president.

He likened the Barisan parties as being a part of Perikatan to that of Sarawak’s ruling Gagasan Parti Sarawak joining Barisan or Perikatan.

PAS, which is the second biggest party in Perikatan, came out to say that its machinery was being geared up.

Vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar, who was the party’s election director for GE14, said: “Our machinery is on green mode. This is the first time that PAS will face a general election while being part of the Federal Government.”

Ahmad Samsuri, who is Terengganu Mentri Besar, said the party was conducting election data analysis and simulation algorithms to gain a better grasp of the next polls and that it needed another month to round things up.

PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said Muafakat Nasional had formed a seat allocation committee.

“PAS’ strength is that everyone within follows orders and decisions made by the top,” he said.

He said Perikatan still needed to be strengthened.

“There is still much to be discussed such as seat allocation and election machinery issues,” he said.

Political analyst Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian did not rule out Perikatan calling for snap polls if things were in its favour.

“If Perikatan’s registration is formalised and seat distribution is settled, the Prime Minister may consider maximising the Covid-19 feel-good factor to get a fresh mandate.

“If Barisan, Muafakat and Bersatu can resolve the seat allocations amicably, the possibility of winning big is there,” he said.

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