Discontent simmering over Pakatan-BN seat talks

Diyana Ibrahim

Grassroots leaders say seat distribution talks between Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional are causing dissatisfaction among supporters in both coalitions. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, May 29, 2023.

SEAT allocation negotiations between Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Barisan Nasional (BN) are causing dissatisfaction among supporters in both coalitions, grassroots leaders said.

They warned that this simmering discontent can affect their cooperation in the state elections.

An Umno grassroots leader in Kelantan who did not want to be identified said the issue is over the number of seats distributed between BN and PH in the state. 
The problem started when a Kelantan Umno meeting revealed that PH would contest 14 seats in the state assembly while BN would take 31 seats.

“There are dissatisfied voices from below (the grassroots) with PH getting 14 state assembly seats.

“This number is based on one state seat for the 14 federal constituencies in the state but in some parliamentary seats, PKR and Amanah are both eyeing state seats. However, Umno is not willing to give them up.

“But decisions are being made by the federal leadership,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

He gave the example of the Guchil and Dabong seats under the Kuala Krai parliamentary seat – both being eyed by PKR and Amanah respectively. State Umno however feels it stands a better chance of winning these seats.

Traditionally PH parties had performed very poorly in Kelantan and Terengganu where PAS and Perikatan Nasional held supreme. Umno and BN had been a weak opposition in the states.

In the last general election in November, Perikatan Nasional (PN) swept all federal seats in these two states.

Earlier this month, Utusan Malaysia reported that the Terengganu Umno machinery refused to work to help PKR and Amanah candidates in the state elections.

The report quoted sources as saying they rejected the PH candidate because the coalition had no support in Terengganu.

Terengganu Umno denied the allegations but its leader admitted there was a slight conflict regarding the number of seats requested by PH in the state.

Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Penang, Selangor and Negri Sembilan are set to hold their state polls by August this year. The first three states are held by PAS/PN while PH controls the other three.

Some grassroots leaders believe the lack of cooperation within Barisan Nasional ahead of the state polls has something to do with the change in leadership in some divisions during the March Umno elections. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, May 29, 2023.

Get on the same page

Meanwhile, the Kelantan Umno leader also said the atmosphere ahead of the state elections seems cold because there is no preparation for coordination even though the state assembly is expected to be dissolved in mid-June.

He is worried this situation will affect the spirit of the party machinery, which form the backbone of every election campaign.

“Umno/BN has not made any preparations yet. Forget about any coordination between PH and BN, there is none within BN itself with elections around the corner.

“In this situation, the grassroots are wondering and getting restless.”

He believes this gloomy atmosphere has something to do with the March Umno elections, which saw leadership changes in many divisions.

“Those who lost (the party elections) do not want to get involved. They do not want to help canvass for support.

“That’s why even at the lower level we don’t have high hopes for the state polls this time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Penang PKR youth leader Mohammad Fadzli Roslan also admitted the issue of seat sharing would be a challenge in cooperation between BN and PH.

He said both coalitions need to be on the same page in order to win the state polls.

“Our concern is if the division of seats is not agreeable to all parties.

“We know that if we want to have this PH-BN super coalition, we must have a win-win situation. 

“We have to look at the strengths that should be prioritised, and the incumbents should also be given priority in seats.

“We want to make sure we can win in Penang. We want to sweep 40 state seats,” he said.

He said the state PKR youth wing has started to actively work the ground to face state polls.

“Although there are no official programmes for state elections yet, we are working with PH parties and with BN and Umno to draw up joint programmes,” he said. 

“The cooperation at the youth level is very good. There are no issues arising.

“For us, let the top leadership decide on seat distribution,” he said. – May 29, 2023.

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  • Frankly, PH should not be greedy and let UMNO take most of the seats in Kelantan and Terengganu. PH is obviously very weak in most seats in the 2 states. Be united to face the formidable enemy in the lion's den. At the same time, UMNO should not be too ambitious in states already controlled by PH. Look at the bigger picture and the overall number of seats to be contested by each party. Then it would be much easier to come to a compromise.

    Posted 1 year ago by Brave Malaysian · Reply