Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Malay-based parties may use own logos as pandemic polls loom

Umno and Bersatu are still working out a solution to their claims on seats in the Malay heartlands.

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The current ruling parties may enter the next general election fray using their own logo, although party insiders fear this may dash hopes of an end to the threat to government stability through an alliance by some with partners outside their coalition.

MalaysiaNow understands that PAS and Bersatu, which are part of Perikatan Nasional (PN), have decided to use their own logos.

The move was confirmed by the leader of the Islamist party’s highest decision-making body.

“So far, the plan is to use our own logo. Each of us has our reasons,” Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh, who heads PAS’ powerful Ulama Council, told MalaysiaNow recently.

An insider close to PN and Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders said while it was obvious that the parties are banking on the familiarity of their logos, the move may mean that the 15th general election will not put to rest the shifting political alliances.

“So far, the plan is to use our own logo.”

“In the eyes of the Election Commission, contesting under their own logo means there might not emerge a single party with a clear majority to form the government.

“There’s a risk of election-night cold feet, as some leaders from parties with more seats could negotiate with those outside their alliance,” the insider told MalaysiaNow, believed to be a reference to overtures from former prime minister Najib Razak to PKR president Anwar Ibrahim in the wake of BN’s defeat in 2018.

In that election, Pakatan Harapan (PH) parties in the peninsula went to the polls using the PKR logo, as the coalition’s registration was still pending with the Registrar of Societies.

PN, the current ruling coalition, comprises Bersatu, PAS, GPS and several Sabah and Sarawak parties. It was formed in February this year as a platform for parties which lent their support to Muhyiddin Yassin to form the government following the collapse of the PH administration.

Umno, despite supporting Muhyiddin with more than 30 seats, has so far decided to stick to BN, where its partners MCA and MIC have two seats each.

In September, the Malay party went to the Sabah polls using BN’s “scales” logo, while its federal ally Bersatu went with the PN logo.

Despite the novelty of its logo, PN managed to win more seats than BN in the state polls, allowing it to lay claim to the chief minister’s post.

‘PAS won’t clash with Umno’

There is much speculation that the next general election could be held in March, as PN leaders seek to put to rest constant challenges to the government’s legitimacy.

Senior minister Mohamed Azmin Ali recently revealed that a plan to hold the general election in September was cancelled following a fierce return of Covid-19 infections nationwide.

“The seat distribution issue is 80% resolved.”

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, PAS’ Zawawi, who is Pasir Puteh MP, agreed that the election is near.

He said his party has had meetings with Umno and Bersatu on preparations for the polls.

He said PAS and Umno have made progress on seat distributions for the coming polls, despite initial reports of them clashing in constituencies in the Malay heartlands of Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu.

“The seat distribution issue is 80% resolved,” he said. “There are some small remaining problems between Umno and Bersatu.”

However, Zawawi said PAS will not clash with Umno in any seat, adding that candidates have already been given letters of credentials from their respective parties.

“So if someone insists on contesting a seat without his party’s approval, he’ll have to do so as an independent,” he said.

In September, Umno, PAS and Bersatu announced a joint committee to discuss seat distributions between the three Malay-based parties, hoping to force one-on-one contests with PH.

Zawawi is confident that differences over seats between Bersatu and Umno can be overcome, and offered his party as a “peacemaker”.

“It’s important to be the middleman although it can drive you crazy,” he quipped.

“Between PAS and Umno, we might get a simple majority. But if PAS, Umno and Bersatu combine, we can achieve two-thirds,” he said confidently.

Zawawi also said his party is ready for an election.

“PAS is 100% ready,” he said, adding that some 10% of the party’s candidates are new faces.

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