Three-way tussle could make GE15 messy affair, say analysts
Contest for the 15th general election could turn unpredictable due to multi-cornered fights between Perikatan Nasional, Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 — The battle lines forming between the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) and rivals Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Barisan Nasional (BN) could make the contest for the 15th general election more unpredictable, political analysts said.

Senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs Oh Ei Sun said that in such a scenario, Umno stood to gain the most and PH would benefit the least.

“Umno with its juggernaut of election machinery would still benefit most from such multi-cornered fights, followed by a PAS-Bersatu coalition, and lastly PH, which would see its already meagre Malay votes further cannibalised by the above Malay-centric parties,’’ he said. 

Currently, PN consists of Bersatu, PAS, STAR and SAPP that have a combined 50 seats in the Dewan Rakyat, compared to Barisan Nasional, which consist of Umno, MCA, MIC, and PBRS that collectively have 42 seats. 

PH now has 91 divided among PKR, DAP and Amanah. 

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) geostrategist Professor Azmi Hassan believed that if Umno-BN and PN do not end up on the same side, they would more likely hurt each other’s chances than challenge PH.

He said this was because they would be contesting for the same Malay vote whereas PH would have a relatively stable support base among non-Malays.

“It does not matter if the seats are of Malay majority or otherwise, PH will be the big winner,’’ he said. 

Towards that end, KSI Strategic Institute economic adviser and political analyst Hoo Ke Ping said it would be a poor strategy for the Malay parties to split their supporters.

“The facts are there. In the past election, PAS had managed to take away 10 to 30 per cent of Malay votes away from Umno and BN in each respective seat they contested. 

“They should not go up against each other,’’ he said.

An Umno insider agreed, saying that his party and PAS concluded that working together through Muafakat Nasional could allow them to win in at least 30 more seats.

“We could draw to the same result or even worse if the same scenarios are repeated. Even when PN was just formed several months back, there were already strong calls from the grassroots for us to instead have an election and not to negotiate with any party. 

“However, a free-for-all general election would not benefit Umno. The projected numbers then, just don’t add up for the party or even anyone else for that matter,’’ said the source.