KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 — Both Parti Pejuang Tanahair and Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) will likely not see better days after they announced their split earlier in January, analysts polled by Malay Mail have suggested.
They said Pejuang simply did not have the grassroots support to be a significant contender in the political arena, as evidenced by their crushing loss in the 15th general election.
“Pejuang leaving GTA is just a way to convince themselves that they’ve found the ‘cause’ of their problem, which is really just a way to save face,” said political researcher Syaza Shukri, an assistant professor at International Islamic University Malaysia.
“But the problem is deeper than that,” she said, adding that the party also suffered from weak leadership.
Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research senior fellow Azmi Hassan said that even if Pejuang managed to survive as a party, it would likely “fade into oblivion” and be forgotten by the public until perhaps the 16th general election.
“In order for Pejuang to survive, they would need a better, stronger coalition,” he said.
Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had formed Pejuang after breaking off from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia in 2020, in the aftermath of the political turmoil that brought down the Pakatan Harapan government earlier that year.
However, last December, Dr Mahathir resigned from his post as Pejuang chairman leaving his son and president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir to take up the challenge of leading the party.
Analysts had already previously speculated that both Pejuang and GTA would be “toothless” without Dr Mahathir.
It was also recently reported that at least 13 of Pejuang’s central executive members had left the party to continue under GTA, sometime between December and Mukhriz’s announcement of the split.
GTA is now left with parties Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra), Barisan Jemaah Islamiah Se-Malaysia (Berjasa) and Parti Perikatan India Muslim Nasional (Iman).
With Bersatu gone, analysts say GTA would take on a clearer right-leaning political stance.
While Perkasa was formed by leaders from the Malay supremacist group Perkasa, Berjasa is dominated by members and former leaders of the hardline Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma).
Yet, analysts agreed that the situation would not be beneficial to GTA as a political coalition.
“GTA's political position is too far to the right, which doesn't appeal to ordinary Malays. Even conservative Malay-Muslims are generally centre-right,” said Universiti Sains Malaysia political science professor Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid.
He, however, added that GTA could perhaps stay on as a non-governmental organisation.
“If your leader or at least one of your leaders is vocal enough to make news headlines once in a while, your NGO can survive, regardless of your usefulness or uselessness to society and the nation.
“GTA has such a leader in Ibrahim Ali,” he said, referencing the president of Putra and formerly Perkasa president.
“But once GTA elements venture into politics, they are doomed to failure at the ballot box,” he stressed.
GTA’s establishment was announced by Mahathir in August 2022 — during a period of intense speculation that GE15 would be held soon — and was promoted as a coalition aimed at helping the Malays, especially in terms of economic strength.
When the general elections finally happened last November, all 121 GTA candidates lost their deposits.