PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Harapan (PH) must effectively communicate its policies in the face of racial tactics by the Umno-PAS alliance, in order to obtain greater Malay support.
In a statement today, Bangi DAP MP Ong Kian Ming said Malay support for PH has been on an upward-downward swing based on voting data from the five by-elections held since the last general election.
“What is clear from the by-election results is one cannot assume Malay support for PAS will necessarily go to Barisan Nasional (BN) in a head-to-head fight with PH,” Ong said.
“Nor can one assume that most of the PAS support that came about from anti-BN supporters will necessarily go to PH.
“The Malay vote is up for grabs and PH needs to be strategic in taking systematic steps to win them over.”
Ong said PH Malay support increased when contesting against BN-Umno in the Sg Kandis by-election, as the Umno candidate was closely associated with former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak.
In the Balakong by-election, Malay support for PH increased by an estimated 35% when it faced BN-MCA in the Chinese majority state seat, where the MCA candidate did not get much campaign help from Umno or PAS.
For the Seri Setia by-election, PH experienced a drop in Malay support of 11.2% going against a PAS candidate who was a former state executive councillor.
The Port Dickson by-election saw an increase in Malay votes by 18.5% when prime minister-in-waiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim beat his PAS challenger.
But for the Cameron Highlands by-election, Ong said PH only gained a 1% increase when they ran against BN’s Muslim Orang Asli candidate.
Election observers had predicted from the PH defeat in Cameron Highlands that the ruling coalition will not be able to get enough Malay support to last beyond this term, after Umno saw its share of Malay votes increase with PAS support.
Ong said PH could still influence some PAS supporters by highlighting Umno’s corruption cases.
“There needs to be a more concerted effort to contrast PH against Umno and PAS and tie the fates of Umno together with PAS.”
“Right now, PAS wants to have the cake and eat it by working with Umno on the basis of racial and religious cooperation but not wanting to suffer the taint of being formally associated with the corrupt and kleptocratic practices of Umno.
“Whether this can last until GE15 remains to be seen especially given the accusations that PAS received financial help from Umno prior to GE14.”
Ong also predicted that Malay voter sentiment could shift once the many welfare policies targeting poor households are fully in place. The International Trade and Industry deputy minister said giving out more subsidies to bumiputra voters in the east of the peninsular could also secure Malay support for PH.