A recent research paper by Wan Saiful Wan Jan has stated that deep-rooted fear of DAP among rural Malays will be an obstacle for Pakatan Harapan, in particular, Bersatu.

Harapan has tasked Bersatu with securing Malay-majority parliamentary seats, but many rural Malays interviewed by Wan Saiful told him that voting against BN would only serve to empower DAP.

In response to this, Johor Bersatu media director Mohd Solihan Badri said he concurred with Wan Saiful’s assessment but believed the problem could be mitigated if DAP adopted Bersatu’s logo at the 14th general election (GE14).

“I hope the leadership will decide on the use of one logo and this logo should not portray something that the Malays dislike.

“I am not saying I agree that 85 percent of the Malays (as stated in Wan Saiful’s survey) are not in favour of DAP. I am saying there’s an uneasy feeling about DAP among the Malays,” Solihan said.

It is unclear whether Harapan would be able to obtain approval from the Registrar of Societies (ROS) to use its logo at the upcoming general election which is expected to be called in the coming months.

Should this be not forthcoming, Solihan said one option is for Harapan to use Bersatu’s logo instead.

“Hopefully, the Harapan parties can use a universal logo that is accepted by all. I personally propose for the entire Harapan machinery to use Bersatu’s logo,” he said when contacted for comments on Wan Saiful’s paper.

He added that Bersatu’s logo – a white hibiscus against a red backdrop – would make it easier for Harapan to introduce its candidates to the electorate as a single team.

Solihan, who used to be a Umno branch leader, said the fear of DAP among Malays was entirely Umno propaganda.

“The story existed because Umno has been doing this for a long, long time.

“I was a committee member in Umno before, so I know what I had done in the past and this is the result,” he said.

Numerically impossible

On his part, Solihan said he would attempt to educate Johor Malays voters that their fear of DAP usurping Malay power was unfounded because the predominantly Chinese party does not have the numbers.

“I was told that DAP will contest 13 out of 56 state seats, which is the same as the last general election. This will not affect the Malay political power,” he added.

Wan Saiful’s paper – published by the prestigious ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore – was perhaps the first significant research paper on voter sentiments towards Bersatu.

Among others, Wan Saiful (photo) noted that Bersatu had very little traction among the Malays when the research – which combined data from surveys and interviews – was conducted last year.

Johor Malay voters, said Wan Saiful, believed that Malays were marginalised in neighbouring Singapore and that they would suffer the same fate if any party other than BN were in power.

Bersatu was formed just last year by a group of disgruntled Umno members led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

The party considers Johor to be one of its frontline states in the battle for GE14.