PETALING JAYA: Perikatan Nasional was defeated in the recently concluded Johor state elections, but that doesn't mean that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin must step down as Perikatan chairman, said Datuk Dr Marzuki Mohamad.
The former principal private secretary to the former prime minister said that despite Perikatan's defeat in the Johor polls, it managed to put a dent on Barisan Nasional's share of Malay votes.
According to Marzuki, voting trends in the Johor state election showed that Perikatan is the only coalition recording an increase in Malay support compared to Barisan and Pakatan Harapan.
"Malay support for Barisan has decreased significantly from 58.8% in the 2018 general election to 51.1% in the state elections this year.
"Data showed a shift of nearly 8% of Barisan Malay voters to Perikatan. It should also be pointed out here that Johor is Barisan's stronghold," said Marzuki in a Facebook post on Thursday (April 7).
Marzuki also said voting trends have shown that Malay support for Pakatan has decreased significantly from 28.3% in the 14th General Election to 11.3% in the state election.
"That is 17% of Pakatan Malay support shifting to Perikatan. Isn't this an achievement for Perikatan as a new party under the leadership of Muhyiddin," added Marzuki.
Marzuki then cited a study on Johor voters conducted by the Masa Depan Malaysian Institute and the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research from Feb 4 to 21, which found that Muhyiddin was the most popular leader in Johor.
He said the survey showed Muhyiddin led an approval rating of 52% compared to Barisan advisory board chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak (39%), former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (35%), DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng (24%) and Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (14%).
"Muhyiddin also led as the prime minister candidate, with 29% of respondents supporting, compared to Anwar (23%) and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (16%). Among Malay respondents, Muhyiddin garnered 41%, Ismail Sabri (22%), and Anwar (10%)," said Marzuki.
Marzuki said shifting voting trends to Perikatan in the Johor state election was due to Muhyiddin's popularity as a former prime minister and a local born from Johor.
"Based on the data, in my opinion, calls for Muhyiddin to step back only because Perikatan lost in the Johor state election, is quite premature and careless," added Marzuki.
Marzuki was responding to a news report quoting Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research (NASR) senior fellow Azmi Hasan, who said Parti Pribum Bersatu Malaysia is in a desperate situation and it's time for Muhyiddin to take a backseat.
Azmi had also said that no one is willing to work with Muhyiddin due to Bersatu's history of shifting loyalties.
Meanwhile, commenting further, Marzuki said it was illogical for a leader to resign when the party loses in an election.
"If party presidents have to resign when they lose an election, then many parties in the country are facing a change in leadership due to defeat," he added.
As an example, Marzuki said PAS never won an election at the federal level, but only at states such as Kelantan, Kedah, and Terengganu.
"The PAS president did not change because PAS lost in the general elections. Instead, the Islamist party moves forward.
"When the Perikatan government was formed on March 1, PAS became a part of the Federal Government," said Marzuki.
Marzuki said PKR faces a similar situation as PAS, as the party under Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail had lost in all general elections since the party was formed in 1999, and it only won in the 2018 general election.
"So, should Perikatan's defeat compel Muhyiddin to resign? In terms of seats, maybe. But in terms of voting trends, data has shown the opposite," added Marzuki.
Perikatan only managed to win three and two seats in the Johor and Melaka state elections, respectively.
In terms of popular votes, Perikatan managed to come in second to Barisan in both state elections
In the Johor elections last month, Barisan led the popular vote with 599,753 votes, followed by Perikatan's 334,457 and Pakatan's 284,969.
Similarly in the Melaka state election last November, Barisan led the popular vote with 599,753 votes, followed by Perikatan's 334,457 and Pakatan's 284,969.