KOTA KINABALU, Jan 22 ― Parti Warisan was accelerating its expansion into Peninsular Malaysia by recruiting disgruntled DAP members but such moves will create stumbling blocks to future cooperation in the larger Opposition, analysts said.
They said the strategy was effectively cannibalising a potential ally’s support and will damage the goodwill among parties that will be critical when negotiating seat distribution for the 15th general election.
Universiti Malaya’s socio-political analyst professor Awang Azman Pawi said Warisan was clearly signalling its desire to compete for DAP’s supporters by recruiting leaders from the latter.
“But this can backfire on Warisan as they may be seen as trying to take the shortcut to power and influence. The long-term effect may be adverse. It will push away Pakatan Harapan grassroots,” he said.
Warisan is not part of the PH coalition that comprises DAP, PKR, Amanah, and Upko, but is allied through an informal pact dubbed “Pakatan Plus”.
Aside from hurting its image among Pakatan Harapan (PH) supporters, Awang Azman said recruiting an ally’s leaders could lead to Warisan being seen as lacking depth or being incapable of grooming its own leaders.
“This will make it hard for them to negotiate with parties where their leaders came from, when the time comes.
“This is evident from previous practice like in Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia where leaders were so at odds and fighting for power. When it became irreconcilable, many left Bersatu and joined Parti Bangsa Malaysia,” he said.
According to public policy analyst Lim Teck Ghee, Warisan could be headed down a strategic cul-de-sac by trying to poach a fellow Opposition party’s members and support.
Warisan has already announced that it has recruited former DAP MPs Jeff Ooi and Ng Wei Aik, and was planning to unveil more political leaders who have joined them from the same party as PKR and Gerakan.
“Whatever gains made will not only be short term but will only strengthen the current ruling coalition's prospects in the coming election,” Lim said.
“It is more important for Warisan to focus on the youth vote in the country if it is to bring about the change it is promising.”
Universiti Malaysia Sabah political analyst Romzi Ationg also warned that Warisan’s attempt to position itself as an alternative to PH in the peninsula could end up alienating its core supporters in the Borneo state.
Warisan began life as Parti Warisan Sabah, an Opposition party based in the East Malaysian state in 2016, and helped PH win the general election two years later.
As a result, the party also gained control of the Sabah state government, but lost the 2020 state election that Warisan president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal triggered in response to a takeover attempt from Umno.
Warisan went national last December and dropped “Sabah” from its name.
“At the moment, Sabahans generally view such a move as a way of an attempt to grab political power at the federal level seriously. Some remain sceptical, and to ease such an attitude Warisan must strengthen its political influence throughout the country,” he said.
Another Sabah-based analyst, Tony Paridi Bagang said that so far Sabahans have mixed feelings about Warisan’s expansion.
“Those who subscribe to parochial politics may want to see Warisan to focus and champion the state and Sabahans rights. For those who believe in ‘new politics’ and new narratives, they will support Warisan’s call of ‘building the nation’.
“For most part, supporters are adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach to see if there is significant development in Peninsula support towards Warisan,” he said.
Warisan was recently rumoured to be boosting its presence in West Malaysia by taking on some eight Pakatan Harapan leaders into the party, including at least three senior DAP leaders from Penang ― ex-exco Datuk Danny Law, and former MPs Ooi and Ng.
The party is expected to announce some new leaders at a “Unity Night” in Kota Kinabalu tonight.
Shafie was recently quoted saying that there was no issue for his party to expand into opposition areas when they had come to Sabah.
Shafie said that he was looking at moving the country forward with a multiracial theme as his party was longer tied up with PH.
“Why should my party be obliged or be thinking of them for moving the country forward,” he said in an interview with Sin Chew Daily.
Shafie said that Warisan has been receiving positive responses not only from seats held by the Opposition but also people from seats held by Umno and PAS.
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