‘Seats to be finalised by month’s end’

Meeting of minds: Mohamad (second from left) having a discussion with (from left) Azman, Ng, AFP journalist M. Jegathesan, Wong and news industry veteran Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar at The Concorde Club forum yesterday. — AZMAN GHANI/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Preparations for the 15th General Election have started with the seat allocations among Muafakat Nasional parties expected to be finalised by the end of this month, says Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.

The main priority, he said, was to iron out the parliamentary seat allocation between the major parties before they go to the polls.

“As for the deadline, we want it to be completed as soon as possible, hopefully by the end of this month, ” he said here yesterday.

On Aug 21, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia accepted an official invitation to join the Muafakat coalition comprising Umno and PAS.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said he believed that participation in Muafakat was the best option for Bersatu as it was a large coalition bringing together the main parties in the country.

Analysts said parties under Muafakat were working together to ensure straight fights would be held. During the 14th General Election, of the 222 parliamentary seats contested, 192 saw multi-cornered contests.

Talk has been rife that the Perikatan Nasional government may call for snap polls, expected to be held between the end of this year or early 2021.

This view has also been strengthened with the tabling of Budget 2021, which has been moved from Oct 2 to Nov 6, while the tabling of the 12th Malaysia Plan has been postponed to early next year.

Mohamad said for Umno, the party was in its final stages to decide which parliamentary seats it would be contesting.

“For the seat allocation, we are still in discussions. But for Umno, we are almost done on the number of seats we will be contesting.

“We also took into consideration views of our partners in Muafakat Nasional, ” he said at The Concorde Club forum here.

Mohamad was the special guest at the forum. Among those present were former Bernama chairman Datuk Seri Azman Ujang, Star Media Group editorial adviser Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai and chief content officer Esther Ng.

The Concorde Club, initiated by Azman and Wong, is an informal gathering of journalists and opinion shapers with political and business leaders.

Mohamad said Umno would also discuss seat allocations with Barisan Nasional component parties, followed by negotiations with PAS.

“Once we complete discussions with Umno, Barisan and PAS, then we will discuss with Bersatu. Our main aim is to avoid three-cornered fights.

“When all the parties are satisfied with the seat allocations without any three-cornered fights emerging, it will be easier for us to win the general election, ” he added.

Mohamad said the main formula for seat allocations was for Umno to contest in all the seats that it won in the 14th General Election.

“And for seats that we lost (during GE14), the party that gained the second highest amount of votes will get the seat (to be contested).

“That is how we determine and bargain whether the seat is for Umno or Barisan (parties), ” he added.

He also admitted that negotiations with Bersatu would be more sticky but he was confident it would be done “in harmony” with all three parties in Muafakat.

“I believe there is still time. I do not foresee much problem regarding seat allocations with Barisan and PAS but it will be a bit complex with Bersatu, ” he said without elaborating.

He also said that Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob would lead the consultative committee to discuss seat allocations with the other parties.

Political analyst Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said the issue of seat allocation was crucial as the realignment of political collaboration changed post-GE14 and shifted towards a “grand coalition” of political parties.

“If the political parties are finalising their seat allocations by September, it indicates that the general election is just around the corner.”

He said that a successful outcome on the seat allocations among the parties within Muafakat could be reached as cooperation among its parties was working well, as seen during several previous by-elections.

“If they can avoid three-cornered fights and learn from past errors during GE14, that will give them an advantage, especially in the Malay-dominated constituencies, ” he added.

Universiti Utara Malaysia political lecturer Prof Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said many issues still needed to be sorted out in preparation for the general election, so he believed that it might only be called next year.

“It looks like it is a preparation (by Perikatan Nasional) for a general election next year rather than this year, ” he said.

PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man confirmed that discussions on the seats were still ongoing and the consultative meeting was held last week.

“Follow-up discussions will also be made, ” he added.

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