For PRN 2023 (State Polls), long-time warring factions now have to work together for the greater good
KUALA LUMPUR — Now that all six state assemblies – Selangor, Penang, Negri Sembilan, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu – have officially been dissolved, many political pundits are all geared up to bet on PRN 2023 (State Polls), expected to be held between end July and mid-August.
The Election Commission has 60 days from the date of dissolution to hold an election, but it typically holds an election a month from the date of dissolution. All six states are expected to have simultaneous elections in an attempt to save costs after political wrangling saw at least three states hold separate state elections in the past three years.
Unlike previous excitement felt during state elections or even by-elections, there seems to be a feeling of apathy among the chattering classes, especially those aligned with specific political groups.
Basically, Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah are all led by PAS – a key component of Malaysia’s leading opposition coalition Perikatan Nasional (PN). The other three states are led by Prime Minister Datuk Sri Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, of which the latter is pairing up with Barisan Nasional (BN) led by its President, Datuk Sri Ahmad Zahid Hamid at Federal’s Unity Government.
PRN 2023 – What’s At Stake In The State Polls?
Remember, though, whatever is at stake in the States, has no bearing on the Federal government, which is currently helmed by two giant political groups: Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Barisan Nasional, together with their partners from Sabah and Sarawak.
Meanwhile, the Opposition bloc led by Perikatan Nasional (PN) almost made it to Putrajaya, if not for their ego in not adhering to the request by the King to partner with a party to form the government.
Whatever the case may be, both these major groups are not exactly in the most comfortable position – the Unity Government comprising mainly PH and BN, is worried because they have always been at odds with each other and have NEVER worked together in any election since time immemorial.
These long-term nemeses have now to put aside all differences and swallow all the nasties that have come out of their mouths and on social media, eat humble pie and work towards winning the votes for each other. On top of that, there is a major trust deficit each group has for the other, and it takes more than just eating humble pie and joint programmes to bring both sides to a comfort level.
The two are also ideologically very different. It will be interesting to see how they work together for the first time
Let’s look at the groups within the groups:
BN/Umno – They have 3.5 million members, currently their loyalties are divided into three main unofficial divisions:
1. Diehard Umno supporters will follow the instructions of the party leaders and take the stance of the supreme council members.
2. Then we have the diehard supporters of former Prime Minister and Umno President, Datuk Sri Najib Tun Razak. The latter is spending time in prison for what his supporters strongly believe are political prosecution by another former PM, Tun Mahathir Mohamad with his hold of the judiciary on a leash. Because Umno is not able to get him released, some of his supporters are threatening to boycott the polls and not helping with the campaign machinery as they have often done in previous elections.
3. The last group are those from the broker sect who earlier tried to ‘kill’ Umno by selling the party to the devil – to get the party under the wings of those who tried to undermine the party with the hope that they themselves will get a shot at being party leader and ultimately prime minister. Alas for them, their attempts have failed and are now being sidelined from holding any posts and not given any seats to contest.
PH – Party Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), of which Anwar is the President is easily tamed to work well with Umno as most of the members, including the head are formerly Umno members. The issue here is DAP, who while claiming they will work with BN, will turn around and call unsavoury names about their new ‘bff’s.
PN, which comprises Bersatu (PPBM), PAS and Gerakan, seem to be working well with each other. However, insider information has hinted at cracks within the coalition, especially within Bersatu itself as there is a hunger for power between Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Datuk Sri Hamzah Zainuddin and Datuk Sri Azmin Ali while PAS is getting worried about their relationship within the coalition and may not perform as well as they did before in Selangor. The ailing health status of PAS President, Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang, is also worrying the party.
Let’s look at what’s at stake in the six states and the fight among the parties.
Terengganu has 32 state seats, Kelantan consists of 45 seats, Penang has 40, Kedah has 36, Negeri Sembilan has 36 and Selangor has 56.
Terengganu has been helmed by PAS after it won 22 seats while BN holds 10. Everyone expects PN/PAS to retain this seat.
Penang, a PH stronghold with 33 seats and BN two while another four and one belong to Bersatu and PAS respectively, will see the Unity Government retaining power in the State.
In Kedah, PN is expected to retain the state with PAS 14 and Bersatu six, while currently, PH has 10 and BN two. Pejuang has two, but it is still unsure if they will contest this time around.
PRN 2023 (State Polls) – Major Test for Unity Government
Meanwhile, both Negeri Sembilan and Selangor will be a major test of the strength of the relationship between PH and BN.
There are 36 seats in total in the Negeri Sembilan state assembly, with PH currently holding 20 and BN the remaining 16.
As for Selangor, after the 14th General Election (GE14), PH, which contested using the PKR logo then, won 51 out of the 56 seats, followed by BN and PAS with four and one, respectively.
Interestingly today, Zahid announced that BN is expected to contest 45 per cent of the 245 state seats in the six state elections, while the rest will be contested by PH. This announcement seems to augur well among the supporters of BN as if this materialises, then it is a reflection that PH is giving due consideration to its party in the government and not getting the bulk of the seats for themselves.
As we mentioned earlier, even though the results of the PRN 2023 (State Polls) will have no bearing on the Federal government, if the Opposition wins big in the states, it will reflect badly on the government of the day as it will not have the grasp of the states’ support. So, yes, a lot is at stake. – Mediahit
Edited by: R. Muralitharan