DAP’s Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming today urged Pakatan Harapan (PH) to be flexibile in its campaign strategies and timeline heading towards the 15th general election (GE15) following its latest defeat in Johor, saying the recent state polls there and in Melaka might not have happened if the pact had signed an agreement with Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman Muhyiddin Yassin to keep him in Putrajaya for a longer period of time.
“The reality of politics post-GE14 and post-Sheraton Move is that each party and coalition must be open to exploring different options and configurations,” said Ong who is DAP’s assistant political education director.
“We must avoid resorting to knee-jerk reactions and responding to immediate populist sentiment that may go against the longer term interests of the opposition and the country as a whole.
“For example, if PH had signed some sort of MoU with Muhyiddin last year to keep him as prime minister until 2023, Umno may not have instigated the state elections in Melaka and Johor. We would definitely not have an Umno prime minister who is too weak to stand up to Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, his president, and Najib Razak, his former president.”
At the Johor state election on March 12, PH won 11 seats of which DAP claimed 10 and Amanah, one. PKR, which contested separately under its own logo, won one seat.
PN meanwhile won three seats, two by Bersatu and one by PAS.
This was BN’s second victory in a state election after Melaka, and seen as part of efforts by convicted former prime minister Najib and his ex-deputy Zahid to consolidate Umno’s position ahead of the 15th general election.
MalaysiaNow previously reported that the Umno faction led by Zahid was planning at least three more state elections in the hope of returning Umno to stronger footing in legislative assemblies, before ending things with a “grand finale” in the form of a general election in July.
In his statement today, Ong said PH should also adopt a flexible approach to negotiation strategies with other parties in the opposition, citing the vote splitting which had allowed BN to win a large percentage of seats in both Melaka and Johor.
“There is little point ‘killing each other’ on the electoral battlefield to prove who is the strongest opposition party, only to end up making BN stronger than it actually is,” he said, acknowledging however the difficulties that this might entail given the mutual distrust and dislike among groups.
Adding that PH had depended mostly on large-scale ceramahs and the anti-1MDB, anti-Najib and anti-GST platforms to win the 14th general election, he said the same strategy could no longer be used for any chance of pulling off a “surprise win” in GE15.
“Many PH leaders have criticised the post-Sheraton Move governments under Muhyiddin and Ismail Sabri (Yaakob) for repeating the same policies of Covid-related lockdowns but expecting different results,” he said.
“We should take note of our own criticism and realise that if we carry out the same strategies as before, we would be guilty of taking the same path of repeating the same moves and expecting different electoral outcomes.”
In August last year, Ong and his fellow DAP MP Tony Pua had openly urged party leaders to consider an offer by Muhyiddin just before his resignation as prime minister, promising to undertake a list of reforms long championed by PH in exchange for their support to prevent the collapse of the PN government in the midst of the pandemic.
Ong and Pua had said that this would also prevent the return of “kleptocrats”, a reference to Najib and Zahid, who between them are facing more than 80 corruption charges.