POP quiz. The Melaka polls is a test on:
a) PAS and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia relations?
b) Whether Bersatu can win Malay votes without its former chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad?
c) Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s leadership?
d) Which Malay party is the alpha male?
e) Bersatu’s political sustainability?
f) Can Datuk Seri Najib Razak lead Umno to victory in the state?
g) All the above
h) None of the above
The Melaka polls will put a test on the PAS and Bersatu relations. Both parties are in the Perikatan Nasional coalition, which also consists of Gerakan, Sabah Star and SAPP (Sabah Progressive Party).
On Monday, the Perikatan chairman and Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin announced that the coalition supreme council had decided that component parties – Bersatu, PAS and Gerakan – will contest under a single banner and logo - Perikatan’s - in the state election.
However, the PAS leadership has two minds on this. In a short Facebook post on Friday, PAS deputy president Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man wrote: “As all parties have agreed to work with PAS, it would be good for us to use one logo, the PAS logo in the Melaka state election. Think about it.”
The night before Tuan Ibrahim’s seemingly Umno-friendly post, the Umno supreme council decided to maintain its cooperation with PAS under Muafakat Nasional for the Melaka polls. It is a U-turn from the hostile stance taken by Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. Ahmad Zahid was adamant for his party and Barisan Nasional (consisting of Umno, MCA, MIC and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah) to go solo in the state polls.
Bossku, the moniker of former Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, has been tasked to woo the Islamic party. Najib has a win-win offer for PAS – the synergy between the two parties can win the Malay votes for them, just like in the post-GE14 by-elections which Barisan and Muafakat won.
PAS has to decide which party – Umno or Bersatu – can get it a state seat in Melaka.
Perhaps it is a blessing for Umno and PAS that Ahmad Zahid has flown to Germany to treat his back and neck pains. Zahid’s anti-PAS stance has been a pain in the neck for the PAS leadership.
With the Umno president overseas, Najib, who postponed his Singapore trip to visit his daughter who is expecting, is the de facto leader to lead the party in the state polls. Based on the GE14 results in 2018 which Umno won 13 out of 28 state seats, the party and Barisan are expected to pick up marginal seats. It will be a big boost for bossku if Barisan wins the Melaka state.
In GE14, Bersatu won two seats in Melaka.
But the scenario then and now is different. Bersatu was with Pakatan Harapan, which now comprises of PKR, DAP, Parti Amanah Negara and Upko. And its chairman Dr Mahathir is no longer with the Bersatu. The big question in Melaka is whether Bersatu, led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, can win any seat without the magnetism of the Tun.
Also, does Bersatu still has the oomph as its president Muhyiddin is no longer the PM, a position that wields the carrot and stick?
The polls will also determine who is the alpha male among the three Malay parties – Umno, Bersatu and PAS. To use Malay words – siapa jantan?
Umno has the machinery, while Bersatu is said to have to rely on PAS’. But Besatu is not without a strategy. It may field Masjid Tanah MP Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin in one of the state seats in her parliamentary constituency. Bersatu might also promote her as the first Melaka female chief minister.
But will voters – especially the Umno supporters – in the Masjid Tanah constituency vote for a politician who quit Umno to join Bersatu when Pakatan was in power? It will test whether the voters will accept a YB who Umno calls a pengkhianat (traitor).
The Melaka polls can be seen as a mini referendum on Anwar’s leadership as Opposition leader. Do the urban and semi-urban opposition crowd still consider him as a viable Prime Minister candidate? Or should they move on and support another opposition PM candidate like Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal or anybody but Anwar?
Can Anwar resist the temptation to field the four pengkhianat – including former Melaka chief minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron – who caused the collapse of the Barisan-led state government. In that case, the Opposition voters might punish Pakatan.
The voters have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from Covid-19, which they faced economic and health challenges. The mood in the country is buoyant as most of the states have entered Phase 4 of the National Recovery Plan. Many Melaka votes are worried that the polls – just like the snap Sabah polls last year – can spike the Covid-19 cases and we will be back to the economy-choking lockdown.
Back to the pop quiz, the answer is “g”.