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Without strong Malay ally, PH to face toughest fight in Selangor since 2008

While Selangor has long been seen as a Pakatan Harapan stronghold, Perikatan Nasional might have the edge in Malay constituencies.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli & Azzman Abdul Jamal
3 minute read
Party workers prepare to put up Pakatan Harapan flags ahead of the 15th general election on Nov 7, 2022.
Party workers prepare to put up Pakatan Harapan flags ahead of the 15th general election on Nov 7, 2022.

Pakatan Harapan (PH) may have to work hard to maintain its hold on Selangor as the direction of the Malay vote shows no sign of change from its pattern at the 15th general election (GE15), analysts say ahead of the state polls to be held this year. 

While PH has held Selangor for 15 years since 2008, analysts who spoke to MalaysiaNow expected a tough fight between PH and its new-found ally Barisan Nasional (BN), and Perikatan Nasional (PN) on the federal opposition front. 

Hisommudin Bakar said PH and BN had yet to finalise any form of political cooperation for the elections to come. 

Hisommudin, of think tank Ilham Centre, said both sides appeared to be hoping for a transfer of vote banks from one to another. 

"In other words, BN would get the support of the non-Malay voters by virtue of the fact that they support PH in areas contested by BN," he said. 

"The same would hold true for PH, which is hoping to gain the Malay votes for BN." 

Selangor has long been seen as a PH stronghold, although PN in November succeeded in winning a number of seats previously held by BN and PH, including Tanjung Karang, Hulu Selangor and Kapar.

The state polls to come will mark the first time that PH has faced an election in Selangor without an established Malay partner. 

Its component parties PKR and DAP worked with PAS during their time under Pakatan Rakyat, and were allied with Bersatu at the 14th general election in 2018. 

Analyst Kartini Aboo Talib said even without a strong Malay partner, PH still stood a good chance of winning again in Selangor. 

"The general openness in Selangor will show that PH can still win comfortably, even without PAS or Bersatu in its coalition," she said. 

But Kartini, of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, said that Umno might not be allocated many seats. 

"Even if Umno is allocated seats, it will not be used as an excuse for Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to threaten or ask for more," she said, referring to the Umno president.

"Umno is at the weakest position right now." 

Veteran political observer Zin Mahmud meanwhile said that PN might succeed in winning more seats in the state assembly. 

However, he said it would be difficult to topple PH in Selangor as it holds sway in mixed constituencies. 

PH currently holds 42 seats in the state assembly. PN holds seven, while Pejuang holds three. 

The five seats held by BN were previously in the opposition but joined the government after GE15. 

Selangor PAS commissioner Ahmad Yunus Hairi previously said that PAS and PN were targeting 37 state seats comprising more than 55% Malay voters.

Zin said PAS had once won due to the additional votes from PKR and DAP supporters. 

"In the same way, PKR and DAP got more votes from PAS supporters," he said. 

Hisommudin however said that the Malays who support BN and PN would find it difficult to switch allegiance to PH. 

PH supporters, on the other hand, were more open to backing BN, he said. 

Nevertheless, he said the turnout of non-Malay voters for the state polls might not be as large as it was at GE15. 

He also noted the number of voters which is expected to increase after the latest gazetted list in March. 

"These voters might not follow the same trend as was seen at GE15," he said. 

"PN has an advantage in Malay constituencies in Selangor. PH and BN will have to work hard to make sure that the wave which occurred last time does not happen again."