KUALA LUMPUR – Pakatan Harapan (PH) is ready for the general elections. Almost.
The four PH parties have almost concluded negotiations for parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia, and are now deliberating how to divvy up seats on the state level.
The 14th general election must be called by August next year and parties on both sides of the political divide are already gearing up for it
Malay Mail Online understands that for Sabah and Sarawak, seat talks between opposition parties may take more time as PH parties have been given the freedom to negotiate with state opposition parties.
“Yes, it is about 90 per cent [complete]. Among the four parties of PH, we have almost completed our discussion on the Parliamentary seat allocations in the peninsula. We are now discussing the state seats in all of the states,” PH chief secretary Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah told Malay Mail Online.
He said the main principle used to decide on seat allocations was “winnability” and that the coalition looked at the incumbent lawmaker for each seat and the margin of victory or loss in the last general election.
“No one party is deliberately allocated more seats. But should there be any party being allocated more seats, this is not because that party is dominant, but it is just a coincidence due to the winnability principle,” he explained.
But when asked whether there would be absolutely no seat discussions with Islamist party PAS, Saifuddin replied that the issue was slightly complicated.
“It is not a straightforward thing. Officially PH is not talking to PAS. PAS said it allows talks at the local levels. I guess people are looking at ways to minimise three-cornered contests,” he said.
It has been reported that the PAS leadership has allowed its state chapters to conduct independent negotiations with PH parties.
However, PAS has yet to officially comment on this. Efforts by Malay Mail Online to verify the matter with PAS have been unsuccessful so far.
Saifuddin said opening a discussion with PAS was entirely up to the Islamist party and revealed that in Selangor, discussions have been going on for some time.
“Selangor has been going on since long time. Others not that I know [of],” he said.
PH parties previously set a July deadline to finalise seat talks, but this did not take place.
In May, PAS officially ended all links or co-operation with PKR, with the Islamist party’s powerful Syura Council deciding that the move was necessary in order to defend the party’s Islamic agenda.
The consultative Syura Council accused PKR of violating the terms of its conditional co-operation with PAS, failing to support the Islamist party in its Islamic agenda, and working against it in two by-elections last year.
PAS’s separation from the larger Opposition coalition could lead to multi-cornered contests in the general election which would be advantageous to the ruling BN, with some analyses predicting that the Islamist party could end up the biggest loser.