Analysts: BN may just keep PBM as ally and not part of coalition, won’t give up seven Parliament seats for party hoppers

·3-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 — Barisan Nasional (BN) is unlikely to give up seven seats to Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) for them to contest in the 15th general election (GE15).

Following PBM’s president designate Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin’s announcement that the party is aiming for seven parliamentary seats, analysts said that even the incumbent lawmaker will have a hard time to sell the proposal to BN and contest under its banner.

Azmi Hassan, senior fellow at Nusantara Academy said that PBM’s current lawmakers won with the help of Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the previous 14th general election (GE14).

“If BN accepts PBM as part of the coalition, then negotiations must be made and I think it’s going to be very difficult because BN is keen to contest in Ampang or Tebrau,” he said, referring to Zuraida who is also Ampang MP alongside PBM senior vice-president Steven Choong Shiau Yoon who is also Tebrau MP.

Besides Zuraida and Choong, PBM currently has a total of four federal lawmakers including the party’s president Larry Sng, who is Julau MP as well as Lahad Datu MP Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi.

Previously, Sng announced that he was adamant on defending Julau, which is a constituency in Sarawak in the upcoming GE15.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah political analyst Lee Kuok Tiung said BN might have brushed a few feathers, especially Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), if the veteran coalition decides to accept PBM as one of its component parties.

He said that BN would definitely prefer to work with GPS when it comes to Sarawak and renew their alliance to form a new federal government.

“I strongly believe BN can see clearly that GPS is much much stronger than PBM in Sarawak and they don’t want to create unnecessary enemies or rivalry in facing GE15, especially to form the federal government after the election,” he said when contacted by Malay Mail.

Commenting on PBM’s potential of retaining its federal seats, Universiti Malaya socio-political analyst Awang Azman Pawi predicts a massive distrust among the voters in their constituencies as the party leaders are mainly party hoppers.

He said that PBM is currently desperate for BN’s endorsement to stay relevant again within the country’s political scene.

“Joining the BN coalition is important for the party’s lawmakers because their reputation has dampened with all the party hopping.

“So to be part of BN is crucial because the coalition is currently promoting stability, continuity and experience in governing as part of its campaign,” he said.

Echoing Awang, Azmi said that apart from major trust issues among voters, PBM’s lack of election machinery and grassroots support does not bode well in the upcoming general election.

“I guess it’s going to be an uphill task for them to defend their seats because they won with Pakatan Harapan’s help.

“I think the best that Barisan Nasional can do for PBM is not to accept it fully as part of its coalition but rather as an ally,” he added.

Previously, Zuraida had announced that PBM will contest a total of 14 seats, consisting of seven federal and seven state seats, for the upcoming GE15.

She said the seats in question were all won by the party’s representatives in the previous 2018 general election before they formed the party.

Zuraida also said that the party needs to be part of a political coalition for GE15 to be part of the federal government again.

In August, it was previously reported that BN chairman Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that six political parties had applied to join BN.

However, the Umno president said that a decision will only be made at a BN supreme council meeting.

BN secretary-general Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir said that all applications to join the coalition are being vetted by the BN secretariat.