BERSATU, under the leadership of Muhyiddin Yassin, has agreed to be part of the Muafakat Nasional alliance.
According to Barisan Nasional secretary-general Annuar Musa, MN, the pact formed between Umno and PAS, has agreed in principle to Bersatu’s wish to join.
A necessary formality?
Bersatu joining MN appears to be merely a formality, as the three Malay-Muslim parties, Gabungan Parti Sarawak and a handful of Sabah outfits are part of the informal Perikatan Nasional coalition. The PN government, even with Umno and PAS as its members, only has a majority of two or three seats in Parliament.
When Umno declared that it will not formally be part of PN, it became necessary for Bersatu to align itself with the Barisan Nasional lynchpin and PAS to remain in the government.
Bersatu the weakest
It can’t be disputed that Umno and PAS have strong grassroots support, as seen by the large turnouts at their rallies and those they endorse, such as the protest against the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. As stated by the Johor Umno deputy chief, Bersatu doesn’t enjoy the same level of support.
Bersatu, a relatively new party, grew exponentially because of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, a former prime minister and seasoned politician who commands great respect and backing among the people. When he left the party, an exodus ensued. He has since set up another outfit, Pejuang.
Many Bersatu branches have been dissolved due to a lack of members.
Set to lose in seat negotiations
When it was in Pakatan Harapan, Bersatu was to the pact what Umno is to BN. However, in MN, Bersatu will be competing for the same voter base as Umno and PAS. Given its weak grassroots support, Bersatu doesn’t have the upper hand when it comes to seat negotiations.
Also, in the 2018 elections, Bersatu candidates contested on a PKR ticket. Since then, much has changed.
In the event that Bersatu MPs are fielded in the same seats, newer ones may not succeed in retaining theirs. For example, in the Alor Gajah parliamentary seat, Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof won with a majority of 6,980 votes in the 14th general election. Assuming that voter support is maintained along coalition lines, the PH candidate could defeat MN’s, even if the latter is the incumbent, come GE15.
There were also three-way (or more) fights in certain seats because BN and PAS were still foes in 2018. If MN decides to field a single candidate, Bersatu will most probably be the one to have to give way.
In the last elections, Rina Harun, who now holds the women, family and community development portfolio, stood in the Titiwangsa parliamentary seat and got 23,840 votes. Her BN opponent received 19,701 votes, while the PAS candidate secured 6,845. In the context of Titiwangsa, Umno will be able to present a strong case that its candidate should be fielded as the sole MN candidate in the next elections seeing as to how the party has greater support than Bersatu and PAS.
Taking into account all of the above, Bersatu’s decision to leave PH and join forces with Umno and PAS may be the cause of its downfall. – August 17, 2020.
* Joshua Wu Kai-Ming reads The Malaysian Insight.
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.