In Selangor, analysts see ‘green wave’ as being a ripple, but protest vote could confound

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 — The “green wave” of support for religious conservatism is not likely to be significant in the Selangor state election due within months, political analysts said.

The “green wave” — named after the colour of Islamist party PAS — had propelled the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition to an unexpectedly strong performance in the 15th general election (GE15), which some predict could repeat in Selangor and five other states due for elections this year.

However, Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research senior fellow Azmi Hassan said only a minor version of the phenomenon would occur in seats such as Sungai Burong and Permatang under the Tanjung Karang federal constituency.

This was also due to the influence of Tan Sri Noh Omar, a former Tanjung Karang MP of six terms and strongman who joined PN after being sacked from Umno, he said.

“During the 2018 election (GE14), in the Tanjong Karang parliament constituency, Umno won that seat with 36 per cent majority when Noh contested it.

“Again, if we look at the 15th general election (GE15) results, Bersatu won the Tanjong Karang seat not because of the green wave, but it was more of the Noh Omar factor,” Azmi said.

Umno dropped Noh in favour of Tanjong Karang Umno Wanita chief Datuk Habibah Mohd Yusof for GE15, but she lost to Bersatu’s Datuk Dr Zulkafperi Hanapi by 2,180 votes.

Explaining why the “green wave” would not be a significant factor in Selangor, Azmi said GE15 was a contest of three coalitions — PN, Pakatan Harapan (PH), and Barisan Nasional (BN) — but the latter two were now allies in the national unity government.

In the example of Sungai Burong, he said that if the PH and BN votes from GE14 were combined, the “green wave” effect would be negligible.

While this extrapolation is complicated by the fact that PN’s lynchpin, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, had been part of PH in GE14, Azmi predicted that this would be negated if PH and BN could develop a joint campaign that played to their respective strengths.

“Yes, the ‘green wave’ occurred in Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Terengganu, but for the west coast, especially Penang, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan, the ‘green wave’ is very minimal.

“But if that happens, I think the combination of PH and BN votes will still be much better,” he said, adding that strong support for DAP in non-Malay areas would also keep these safe.

In GE15, the “green wave” allowed PN to make a clean sweep of all federal seats in Kelantan, Perlis and Terengganu, as well as coming within one seat of doing so in Kedah.

It also allowed the coalition to make unanticipated gains even beyond the Malay heartland, and into Malay majority constituencies in urbanised states such as Selangor, where it picked up three more seats.

Despite this, however, Universiti Malaya Centre for Democracy and Election Studies (Umcedel) socio-political analyst Associate Professor Awang Azman Awang Pawi said there were only a handful of Malay-majority seats where the “green wave” could play a factor.

“Among the seats that need we should watch are seats under the parliamentary districts of Sabak Bernam, Sepang, Kapar, Sungai Besar and Kuala Langat, which are now under PN.

“PN is aiming for 15 seats under the parliamentary districts it won in the GE15 if it is able to increase vote share by 15 per cent,” Awang Azman said when contacted.

Awang Azman said PN in Selangor was just as susceptible to the protest votes that were expected to pose a problem to rivals-turned-allied PH and BN. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Awang Azman said PN in Selangor was just as susceptible to the protest votes that were expected to pose a problem to rivals-turned-allied PH and BN. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

Awang Azman said PN in Selangor was just as susceptible to the protest votes that were expected to pose a problem to rivals-turned-allied PH and BN. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

However, he said this would not be easy for PN that must face a combined PH and BN.

Awang Azman also said PN in Selangor was just as susceptible to the protest votes that were expected to pose a problem to rivals-turned-allied PH and BN.

“If there is protest votes among PH supporters who are not satisfied with the PH-BN cooperation, there will definitely be a protest votes by Bersatu grassroots supporters because Bersatu still want to cooperate with PAS, when Bersatu’s initial cooperation started with PH.

“Similarly, there are also PAS supporters who are more realistic and view that it is better to cooperate with Umno rather than Bersatu, which is now beginning to lose support due to the Jana Wibawa court case involving Bersatu's top leadership whom they previously thought were clean.

“In a way, it has become back to square one if we are talking about existing support, as protest votes could occur on both sides,” he said.

Still, the prediction is that protest votes would be a bigger problem for PH and BN, due to their fierce rivalry prior to the formation of the national unity government last year.

Political analyst from UM’s department of political science, public administration and development studies Mohammad Tawfik Yaakub said the threat of protest votes and the possibility of a “green wave” meant the ruling parties could be vulnerable in some parts of Selangor.

These were Sungai Air Tawar, Sabak, Hulu Bernam, Sungai Burong and Permatang in the north of the state; Kota Damansara, Sungai Kandir and Batu Tiga in the central area; and Semenyih and Sungai Ramal towards the south.

“I have categorised the hot seats in the Selangor state election based on several factors that is: high Malay voter population of over 55 per cent, the location and the results of the previous 15th general election (GE15).

“I see high potential for PN in capturing the state seats belonging to Umno/BN in Selangor in this state election based on the green wave sentiment that still exists and is in favour of PN.

“There are also concerns of a ‘protest wave’ among PH supporters against the coalition that may appear for the first time in Selangor because of the rejection of its cooperation with BN which strayed from PH’s election campaign and struggle before GE15,” he said when contacted.

Mohammad Tawfik said PH could face its greatest challenge in retaining the state it first won in 2008, saying the fast-changing political landscape made it difficult for any party to claim dominance in Selangor.

Umno could also be in for a bruising election, he said, based on the possibility that former strongmen such as Noh Omar, former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and former Arau MP Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim could line up against it in Selangor.

Umno sacked Shahidan ahead of GE15 while Khairy and Noh were expelled during a purge of party dissidents earlier this year.

“Selangor will witness a fierce and terrible political clash in the seats that will be contested by Umno and PN.

“In my view, Umno needs to prepare an extraordinary formula to face the Selangor state election and be prepared with a political strategy that can overcome its political opponents,” Mohammad Tawfik.

On Monday, Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari said he will seek an audience with Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah in the second half of June to propose the dissolution of the state legislative assembly.