Perikatan parties begin GE15 seat talks – without Umno

Khoo Gek San

Perikatan parties have begun seat talks for the 15th general election, once the Umno general assembly endorsed the decision to cut ties with Bersatu and the pact in GE15. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, April 12, 2021.

SOON after the Umno general assembly ended late last month, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin requested all Perikatan Nasional (PN) parties to submit the list of seats they want to contest in for the 15th general election, a coalition source said.

He wanted the lists and the sooner the better, once the Umno assembly endorsed the decision to cut ties with Bersatu and PN in GE15.

Muhyiddin Yassin wanted PN parties – namely Bersatu, which he leads – PAS, Gerakan and Sabah-based parties STAR and SAPP to ensure that between them, they could cover all 222 seats. In Sarawak, there is no PN party, but the ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak coalition is seen as an ally.

PN parties had decided at a meeting after the Umno assembly that it would run in all 222 seats without Umno. Seat negotiations, therefore, have to commence as soon as possible. The general election is expected after August, when the state of emergency is lifted.

“PN decided it will move forward without Umno and not let Umno’s decisions hinder our preparations for GE15,” the coalition source told The Malaysian Insight.

The current understanding about PN parties is that Bersatu, PAS and Gerakan will focus on seats in the peninsula, STAR and SAPP in Sabah, while in Sarawak, GPS will decide its own election strategy.

PAS and Bersatu will focus on Malay-Muslim majority seats, but in east coast states where the Islamist party is strong, both parties will have to review any overlaps and see where Bersatu can give way.

Avoiding three-way fights

As the two Malay-Muslim parties in PN, PAS and Bersatu will also have to look at other seats where overlaps and three-cornered fights with Umno have occurred in the past.

One of the most obvious examples of this would be Pagoh in Johor, which Muhyiddin has defended for nine terms. The seat was a traditional battleground between Umno and PAS. It saw a three-way fight in 2018 when Bersatu joined the fray under Pakatan Harapan.

PAS, however, does not have a good track record in Johor and has consistently lost in every contest against Muhyiddin.

As such, the source said PN might be able to avoid three-cornered fights in such seats.

In Johor, besides Pagoh, other federal seats that saw three-cornered fights between Bersatu, PAS and Umno in the last election are Muar, Mersing, Tenggara and Pontian.

Elsewhere, they are Padang Besar and Arau in Perlis; Jerlun, Kubang Pasu, Pendang, Jerai, Baling, and Langkawi in Kedah.

Langkawi was won by Bersatu under PH in 2018, by Dr Mahathir Mohamad who now heads a new party, Pejuang, after being sacked from Bersatu and PH’s ousting from federal government.

Other federal seats where multi-cornered fights have occurred, specifically involving Bersatu, PAS and Umno:

  • Tumpat, Bachok, Ketereh, Pasir Mas, Machang, Jeli and Gua Musang in Kelantan;
  • Besut, Setiu, Hulu Terengganu, and Dungun in Terengganu;
  • Tasek Gelugor in Penang;
  • Gerik, Lenggong, Larut, Bagan Serai, Bukit Gantang, Tambun and Pasir Salak in Perak; 
  • Lipis, Jerantut, Paya Besar, Pekan, Maran, and Kuala Krau in Pahang;
  • Sabak Bernam, Sg Besar and Tg Karang in Selangor;
  • Titiwangsa and Putrajaya in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur;
  • Jempol and Kuala Pilah in Negri Sembilan; and
  • Masjid Tanah in Malacca.

The source said PN joint committees at state and district levels are already preparing for the election.

“This includes the election manifesto, which won’t be deceiving to voters unlike PH’s in 2018, which they didn’t fulfil. PN will ensure all its promises can be fulfilled before including them in the manifesto.” – April 12, 2021.

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