Pakatan Harapan still struggling to win Malay voters’ hearts, says political analyst

Pang Sock Tao

Pakatan Harapan (PH) needs its two Malay partners – Umno and Amanah – to work harder to get the Malay votes.

If not, the outcome of Malaysia’s 16th General Election will be as indecisive as GE15’s.

Political analyst Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk said PH’s May 11 victory at the Kuala Kubu Baharu state by-election only affirmed the political divide in the country.

“Looking at the KKB results, it was pretty much status quo,” said Azeem, director for the Centre for Policy Research, Universiti Sains Malaysia.

“PH will always win where the majority is Chinese, or a high mixed demographics, like in KKB,” he added.

Kuala Kubu Baharu’s voters comprise Malays (46.4 per cent), Chinese (30.7), Indians (18), and others (five per cent).

“However, PH is still unable to win over the hearts of most Malay voters as Umno and Amanah have not been vocal enough. They must work harder from now, as the next general election is just over two years away,” he said.

“At the moment, PN still has the ears and hearts of the Malay voters. If PH can’t win more Malay votes, the results of GE16 will be similar to the last one, with no coalition having a simple majority.”

He added that could lead to uncertainty and see more strange bedfellows, with different coalitions working together to form the government.

“Before 2022, no one expected Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Umno to work together. To maintain its hold on Putrajaya, PH needs Umno and Amanah to help it win more Malay support.”

PH’s candidate, Pang Sock Tao of DAP, won the Kuala Kubu Baharu seat with 14,000 votes, or 57.2 per cent.

PN’s Khairul Azhari (Bersatu) garnered 10,131 votes, or 41.4 per cent. Independent candidate Nyau Ke Xin received 188 votes, and Parti Rakyat Malaysia’s Hafizah Zainuddin, got 152.

Separately, Azeem said he viewed Anwar’s recent announcement that civil servants’ salaries would increase by 13 per cent in December as an attempt to win over Malay voters, who comprise 90 per cent of the 1.2 million-strong civil service.

However, he noted it will be a different situation when fuel subsidies are removed.

Azeem said politics is about bread and butter issues, and how the government handles any price increase would also affect its chances at the polls.

“It will be the same, no matter who is in government, be it Anwar or (Tan Sri) Muhyiddin (Yassin),” he said.

“Once diesel prices go up, transportation costs will increase. Consumers will end up paying more for products.

“If that happens, it will be interesting to see the outcome of another by-election.”

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