‘Gerakan Tanah Air will further split Malay votes’

PETALING JAYA: The newly launched Malay-Muslim alliance, Gerakan Tanah Air, which seeks to rival Umno, will further split Malay votes in the 15th General Election, say political analysts.

Even then, they predict that the movement headed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is unlikely to have an impact on the country’s political landscape.

Universiti Malaya’s Assoc Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said this is because the alliance consists of small-time political parties such as Parti Pejuang Tanah Air, Berjasa, Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra) and National Indian Muslim Alliance Party (Iman), which lack influence, membership and the pull factor to get the Malay votes.

“The Malay votes still revolve around Barisan Nasional, PAS, Bersatu, Amanah and a bit of PKR.

“I see this new alliance as more likely to cause a split in the Malay votes and affect Barisan and Perikatan Nasional votes.

“This will give Pakatan Harapan an advantage,” he said.

PAS and Bersatu are part of the Perikatan coalition, while PKR and Amanah are with Pakatan.

On Gerakan Tanah Air being joined by academics, NGOs and professionals, Awang Azman said the effect would be minimal.

“Although Dr Mahathir tried to gain political strength by trying to get the support of other Malay parties, including academics and NGOs, that strength did not reach a high level,” he said.

“For the voters, the real battle remains between Barisan, Pakatan and Perikatan.”

Dr Mahathir’s view that Malay-Muslim-based parties were required because Malays only supported Malay parties, according to Awang Azman, is inaccurate and fails to reflect reality and current political trends.

“There is no Malay-based party in Malaysia that can rule without non-Malay counterparts,” he said.

He noted that Malay parties needed the support of non-Malay counterparts, such as the kingmaker Gabungan Parti Sarawak.

“In the multiracial context of Barisan, even though there is Umno, the coalition still has MCA and MIC to represent the Chinese and Indian communities.

“And although Amanah is based on Malay and Islam, there are still multiracial parties like PKR and DAP in Pakatan.

“Dr Mahathir’s statements are irrelevant, out of date and will be rejected by the rakyat,” said Awang Azman.

Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian, of Universiti Sains Malaysia, also said Dr Mahathir’s new alliance would further split the Malay votes.

“This will only benefit the main political parties,” he said.

“However, the alliance can serve as a third force to woo undecided voters or those who did not want to vote for the other coalitions.

“It will depend on Dr Mahathir’s personality as a statesman to fully mobilise support, but others have to work on the ground if they want to become a strong and viable coalition, as they will have to compete with other coalitions,” he said.

“Malays have been proven to vote based on either candidate, party or issues.

“Thus, they will support Malay-based parties if their opponents are weak and have lost credibility.

“In the current scenario, voters will look at candidates who represent Malaysia as a whole and solely depending on race, ethnic and religion issues will not work in certain areas,” Prof Sivamurugan added.

On Thursday, Dr Mahathir, who is Pejuang chairman and head of Gerakan Tanah Air, announced the new political movement, which will have an exclusively Malay membership, to take on Umno in GE15.

The coalition plans to field candidates in 120 seats, with its main focus on Malay-majority seats in the peninsula.

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