THEY DO IT WITH SMOKE & MIRRORS: HADI & NAJIB MORE LIKELY TO FORM UNITY GOVT PACTS AFTER GE14 & NOT BEFORE – ANALYSTS

Several political pundits believe that PAS and Umno can work out a possible alliance to capture Selangor, albeit with a number of conditions.

This follows a report from Singapore’s Straits Times on Friday, which claims that Umno president Najib Abdul Razak and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang have been in contact almost daily over the past few months to work out a pact to capture Selangor.

Political analyst Ahmad Atory Hussain pointed out how there have long been talks about a possible collaboration between the two parties for the upcoming general election.

Although Hadi may have been seen to be more inclined to such a pact as opposed to his deputy Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, the Straits Times report had shown that there was, at least, a plan to secure Selangor.

“On paper, Umno can win if it is assisted by PAS. But I don’t think it is that easy with the current presence of Parti Amanah Negara and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia,” Atory told Malaysiakini.

However, a pact between the once sworn enemies to capture Selangor is not impossible.

“Just look at how hard it is for Selangor menteri besar (Azmin Ali) to get close to PAS, it even seems that he has failed to persuade PAS to avoid three-cornered fights,” he said.

Many are of the opinion that a pact between Umno and PAS would reduce support for the latter, but Atory believes otherwise.

“It may backfire a little but a majority of PAS members will follow the president. You must remember, Hadi won the president’s post without hassle so that shows how he is getting tremendous support from PAS members,” he said.

In fact, the faster PAS makes a decision to support BN, the faster it will be for Najib to make an announcement in relation to the general election, said Atory.

“BN will be more confident if PAS makes such a stand because they will be confident of winning and if PAS were to win, it will support BN in forming a government,” he added.

Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng also believes that a pact between the two parties is likely to materialise if PAS were to be left out of Pakatan Harapan, a situation which the Islamist party has no qualms about.

“The alliance will be beneficial to PAS, if PAS and Umno can negotiate an electoral pact and avoid three-cornered fights.”

What about support levels for both parties should they decide to collaborate?

Khoo said both parties will benefit if they can persuade their supporters.

“Not all are going to be convinced but (there is) enough time.

“(But it) could create frictions, too, especially (among) loyal members who are suspicious of both sides,” he said.

Higher chance of post-GE14 pact

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan, however, believes that PAS will be “decimated” should the pact be formed before the next general election.

“Because their members still cannot accept an electoral pact with Umno. It may even lead to an internal power struggle,” he said, adding that some members may even decide to abstain from voting.

“So the more likely option is for a post-election Umno-PAS pact to form a coalition government.

“This might be a possibility, especially under the banner of Malay unity. I would not dismiss it altogether at this stage.”

If a pre-election pact is formed in Selangor, he added, its impact will not be limited to Selangor.

“It will create confusion nationwide. And PAS will end up being decimated in all other states including in Kelantan.

“This is why I think PAS will still be fighting Umno in the 14th general election. But a deal can be struck afterwards if they want.”

What about support for Umno if it were to team up with PAS?

Such a situation will definitely disrupt trust within Barisan Nasional, said Wan Saiful, and this can be used to make non-Malays across Malaysia even more skeptical about Umno.

“Malay support for Umno might go up, but non-Malay support for the BN coalition will be damaged.”

No public announcement

Meanwhile, although the alliance may help Umno recapture Selangor, Merdeka Center programme director Ibrahim Suffian believes that such an arrangement would not be announced publicly.

Like Wan Saiful, Ibrahim said doing so would only upset PAS supporters who are largely anti-Umno.

“All it takes for Umno to wrest Selangor back from the opposition is for PAS to place candidates in PKR seats, thus splitting the Malay opposition vote.”

And in a situation where PAS were to place candidates in PKR seats and Amanah or Bersatu then contests in PAS seats, Ibrahim said the opposition parties would only achieve mutual destruction of their political positions in the state.

“Yes, PAS may end up losing all of their seats in Selangor if it fails to negotiate a non-aggression pact with other opposition parties.

“It may also lead them to lose Kelantan to Umno if they are unable to find a mediator to resolve their differences with Amanah,” he said.

The problem with both PAS and Harapan, said Ibrahim, is that many of their leaders overestimate their potential and think they can win over the opposition supporters and undecided voters.

“Based on electoral patterns in the past 60 years in our country, political affiliation of voters is largely predictable.

“Multi-cornered contests involving PAS, PKR, Bersatu or Amanah and BN will only have one victor – BN. Only DAP is likely to survive a multi-cornered contest scenario if it unfolds.”

Citing BN’s wins in the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections, Ibrahim said not much has changed since then for one to assume that Harapan can somehow garner more support.

“Additionally, the size of crowds at ceramah events is never a reliable indicator of support, especially in rural areas,” added Ibrahim.

Quoting sources, Singapore’s Straits Times had claimed that Najib and Hadi were reportedly working on an electoral pact to capture Selangor in the coming general election.

The report claimed the pair communicated regularly over the phone, even when Hadi was recovering from a heart surgery in May.

With regard to Selangor, Straits Times said since Umno and PAS required a credible candidate to head the state, attempts are being made to court former menteri besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

– M’kini

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