Bersatu and Umno in a bare-knuckle fight to the finish in Melaka

·3-min read
Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan flags are pictured along Jalan Pokok Mangga in Melaka November 9, 2021. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan flags are pictured along Jalan Pokok Mangga in Melaka November 9, 2021. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

COMMENTARY, Nov 10 — A deadly war of power politics is playing out in the crowded arena that is the Melaka state election.

There are 112 contestants fighting for 28 seats, in a battle marked by multi-cornered fights all round.

The spotlight, however, falls on the tussle for Malay supremacy between Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and Umno.

Both are in the federal government but find themselves on a head-on collision course in Melaka, as they jostle for the blessings of Malay voters.

Bersatu-led Perikatan Nasional (PN) is running in all 28 seats against Umno-led BN in a winner-takes-all contest.

Melaka is a small state with approximately 500,000 voters, of whom 65 per cent are Malay.

It was here that the first Malay kingdom began, and it was also here that the kingdom was vanquished by the Portuguese.

It is now the arena where two Malay-based parties are engaged in a do-or-die battle that will see the victor on November 20 taking the lead at the next general election, with the loser trailing behind.

So, what is at stake is earning the right to be the only party worthy of representing the Malays at the national polls and charting their future in government.

This is a challenge, it should be noted, that Umno has faced several times before, with PAS, Semangat 46, and now Bersatu.

Of the three, Bersatu is Umno’s toughest political opponent yet, given that the party helped its former comrades-in-arms PKR, Parti Amanah Negara and DAP to defeat the 60-year-old Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) government in the 2018 general election.

With this scenario and the Covid-related campaigning limitations in mind, Umno-led BN seems to have the upper hand.

Its election machinery is considered the best among its rivals, as it has bases everywhere and a reach that extends to the interiors. It is also efficiently manned by the party’s Wanita wing,

PAS, which cut ties with Umno in Muafakat Nasional (MN) at the eleventh hour to join PN, comes a close second in terms of its election machinery that it now shares with Bersatu.

However, this is likely to have little effect in Melaka, as support for PAS remains low and its bases are small and dispersed.

Bersatu is the worst off, because it has almost zero bases and its initial success of pulling PAS to its side for the state election might come to naught.

Social media won’t be of much help either because news is circulated among party members whose stand is already known.

What is not known is who the public will vote for — and who they will punish for the dissolution of the state government that they see as caused by inter-party squabbles.

How will this bloody fight to the finish end?

Bersatu and Umno will have to wait with bated breath until the final ballot paper is counted on November 20.

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