IN the final weeks before the general election, Barisan Nasional (BN), buoyed by signs of vote splitting and a return of voters to its side, is confident of not only a win at the polls, but of regaining the super-majority it lost in 2008.
Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is seeking his second mandate as BN chairman, this week told members of the ruling coalition that Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) prediction of a Malay tsunami for the opposition at the polls was just talk.
“There won’t be a Malay tsunami. In fact there won’t even be a Chinese tsunami – that’s what he (Najib) told the pre-council meeting last weekend before the Parliament session,” a BN insider told The Malaysian Insight.
“We are looking at getting back a two-thirds majority without any of these so-called tsunamis.”
BN holds 134 federal seats, 14 seats short of the 148, or two-thirds, needed for a super-majority government that is able to rewrite and pass laws with little opposition.
A tidal wave of Chinese votes for the opposition in 2008 had brought the ruling coalition’s 91% parliamentary majority to an end – a rare loss that had happened only once before in 1969.
The following year, then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stepped down to make way for Najib.
In 2013, Najib did not only fail to win back BN’s lost super-majority; he also lost the popular vote, to the chagrin of the coalition and his mentor Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Najib had called the upsurge of Chinese votes for the opposition a “Chinese tsunami”.
Dr Mahathir withdrew support for Najib in 2014 and left Umno in 2016 to found Bersatu, which he now chairs. The party is currently at risk of de-registration over its failure to furnish the Registrar of Societies with documents related to its AGM.
BN insiders point to the disarray within the opposition pact as another sign the ruling party will win big in the 14th general election that is widely speculated to be held late April. The government’s mandate expires in June and it must call elections within 60 days after the expiry.
“The reality is, the opposition is in disarray. They are bickering for seats and are not united (and are even) without a coalition or a common logo.
“The two (component) parties Bersatu and Amanah are not well known to the people. And the main thing is, PAS is not with them,” said a senior Umno leader, referring to the Islamist party’s decision to form another pact to contest in GE14.
PAS is expected to field candidates in 130 federal seats to keep its members and supporters from voting for either PH or BN.
Essentially, PAS would be third party and spoiler which would cause vote splitting, said the BN source.
Polls commissioned by Putrajaya show BN has at least 145 seats in the bag and that only a little push was needed to win a super-majority government.
Independent researchers say BN can win as many as 155 seats, especially in view of the Election Commission’s redelineation – an exercise that many believe favours the ruling government.
“All the opposition has is Dr Mahathir Mohamad but he is a divisive figure to most voters. The Chinese don’t trust him and they will either vote for us or not vote at all. The Malays know only BN and Umno can take care of their interests,” an Umno strategist told The Malaysian Insight.
Dr Mahathir is the PH chairman and the prime minister designate.
“BN just needs to work hard and make sure its supporters come out to vote. The opposition is indisarray and their votes are split,” he said, dismissing the PH manifesto as unconvincing to voters.
MEANWHILE, according to the Star:
PETALING JAYA: With the country heading towards the general election and Pakatan Harapan having already launched its manifesto, Barisan Nasional has promised “something exciting”.
“Our manifesto will not be very detailed but there will be something exciting that we are going to propose in the manifesto,” the coalition’s Strategic Communications director, Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan, said.
Abdul Rahman, who is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said its manifesto would touch on the economy, among other things, adding: “We will talk about the people’s economy, national economy, women, children, wages and efforts to mitigate the cost of living. It will cover a wide spectrum of society.”
He noted that since Barisan was the Government, it already had a lot of documents outlining its aspirations and pledges.
Asked when the manifesto would be launched, Abdul Rahman pointed out in the past elections, Barisan’s manifesto was revealed only after the dissolution of Parliament.
Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said Pakatan’s manifesto was “poison laced with sugar”, noting that the future generation would have to pay a huge debt for some of these “reckless promises”.
MCA publicity spokesman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker said the manifesto had nothing for the Chinese.
“Are they so comfortable with the Chinese votes that they no longer bother to introduce policies for the community?” he said.
Ti said Pakatan’s manifesto catered towards urban voters, like the pledge to limit the tenures of its chief minister and mentri besar to two terms.
However, he said that if the grouping was serious about this, then Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng should quit.
Ti also said Barisan’s manifesto was visible as it comprised the work the Government had been carrying out.
“Voting for Barisan is (voting for) a continuity of good policies,” he said.
Gerakan secretary-general Datuk Liang Teck Meng said Barisan’s manifesto would be “something good” for the people and that it would be “realistic and achievable, not something rhetorical”.
“Our manifesto is always a janji (promise).
“It is not a false or fake hope that cannot be achieved,” he said, urging the people to give their full support to the manifesto to be revealed by Barisan chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
– THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT / ANN