THE large number of “friendly” clashes between allies Perikatan Nasional (PN), Barisan Nasional (BN) and PBS has exposed the uneasy alliance among the parties, said analysts.
Prof Awang Azman Awang Pawi from Universiti Malaya told The Malaysian Insight that although PN controls Putrajaya, it is still a new coalition and it has not gotten a grip of politics with its partners.
“More so when the anchor party in PN is Bersatu, which is a rival to Barisan Nasional’s Umno. The top PN leaders have also failed to manage this,” said the political science lecturer.
Awang Azman, who is from Sarawak, said the high number of friendly clashes between the three is also due to local interests.
At the close of nominations on Saturday, reports show that PN, BN and local party PBS will clash in as many as 17 seats.
The number of clashes, however, is now 18 after Inanam incumbent Kenny Chua said on Sunday that he is contesting against PBS with the blessings of PN although he is registered as an independent.
Out of the 17, PBS will clash in 16 seats against Umno (six), Star (five), PBRS (four), MCA (two) and Bersatu (one).
PN consists of Bersatu, STAR, SAPP and PAS, although the Islamist party has chosen to pull out at the last minute, fearing it will harm PN’s chances after its Pasir Puteh MP, Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh, recently angered Christians with his remarks on the Bible.
BN, on the other hand, consists of Umno, MCA, PBRS and MIC.
On nomination day, Prime Minister and Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin said the three groups will form a new pact called Gabungan Rakyat Sabah if it manages to beat the incumbent Warisan Plus in the state elections.
BN is contesting 41 seats while PN is vying for 29 under GRS, and PBS is contesting 22 in the 73-seat state election.
The Warisan Plus coalition is made up of Warisan, Pakatan Harapan and Upko. Under this grouping, Warisan is contesting 53, while Upko and PKR are contesting 12 and seven respectively with one seat going to Amanah.
None of its partners are contesting against each other though Upko and PKR are using their own logos in the polls. DAP and Amanah are going with Warisan’s logo.
The number of clashes among the three groups also shows the amount of rivalry among them due to the unclear political situation.
“Although BN is in the PN government at the federal level, it has chosen not to be in the same coalition with them.
“Umno has made it very clear that it prefers the Muafakat Nasional cooperation it has with PAS rather than come into a coalition led by Bersatu,” said Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s Mazlan Ali.
He said BN had “no choice” but to back Bersatu to form the PN government to oust Pakatan Harapan to regain federal power in February.
“But Umno and Bersatu are rivals in essence. Out of Bersatu’s nine state seats, eight are from Umno.”
In Sabah, Mazlan said the gulf between the three parties is even wider as PBS, being a local party, wants more room to define the state’s politics without being tied down by either PN or BN.
“PBS sees Sabah issues from a different perspective and doesn’t want to let its allies have an easy path to victory, hence the high number of clashes,” said the political science lecturer, who is currently in Sabah to observe the elections.
Bung or Hajiji?
Former deputy minister Aziz Jamman believes the number of clashes between PN, BN, and PBS highlights their fragile unity.
“Take the chief minister issue, for instance. On our side, there’s only one candidate for CM and that’s Mohd Shafie Apdal.
“But on the other side, BN wants Umno’s Bung Moktar Radin while PN wants Hajiji Noor to be CM if it wins,” the Sepanggar MP told The Malaysian Insight.
This, said Aziz, shows that Putrajaya is trying to decide who leads Sabah after the elections instead of leaving it to the 1.12 million voters.
When asked if the multi-cornered fights were an attempt to break up Warisan Plus’ votes, Aziz said: “It’s been used before by federal parties in different state elections here.
“But we believe Sabahans are wiser than that and will make the right choice on September 26 (polling day),” said the Warisan youth chief.
“For now, it is up to voters to decide what they make of this PN-BN-PBS rivalry,” said Aziz
Voters sick and tired of ‘frogs’
SABAH voters have urged politicians to stop the practice of switching parties after being elected by the people, saying it betrays their trust and causes problems.
Several voters interviewed by Bernama have expressed their disappointment over party-hopping, as they prepare for the September 26 elections.
A voter in the Api-Api constituency, Gil Tupang, 63, said defection is the act of small-minded leaders.
“I have lost interest to vote. I know this (not voting) is wrong, but I am disappointed by their actions which seem to treat our votes as worthless.
According to him, party-hoppers lack integrity and hold a blatant disregard for the people.
Husin Wahab, 65, from Kudat, said defecting after being elected by the people is a selfish act which causes problems to Sabahans.
“I really do not like these party-hoppers. Their actions disrupt political stability and cause problems to the people. The worst part is, it upsets the economy,” he said, adding that because of these “political frogs” many voters have lost interest.
Rajali Hamzah Asmat, 40, wants the practice of party-hopping to be banned, especially after the elections.
He urged the winning parties to serve with honesty and for the good of Sabahans.
A trader at Gaya Street market here, Zulkifli Ab Rauf, 39, also has a dim view of party-hopping.
“They give us hope, make promises, but in the end, nothing. So disappointing,” he said.
Another voter, Lee Yuit, 63, said a candidate and the party he represents should be like one big, close family and should stay together, win or lose.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT