Cooperation between Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) in Terengganu ahead of the state polls next month has been plagued by issues linked to the distribution of seats, the candidate for menteri besar, and what appears to be a lack of direction and agreement between the election machineries, MalaysiaNow has learnt.
Several grassroots leaders who spoke to MalaysiaNow voiced concern that such problems would affect their odds of retaking the state from PAS at the election to be held on Aug 12.
A grassroots leader from Umno said many programmes so far had seen the party machinery moving on its own.
"Efforts to coordinate have only been seen at the youth level, that's all," he added.
"Even at the launch of the state BN machinery, only the more junior PH leaders were present.
"By right, the top leaders should have come, or at least the state PH chairman."
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said Umno was well able to move on its own as the party was stronger in Terengganu than its allies Amanah and PKR.
"But if we want to portray a sense of camaraderie between BN and PH, I don't see it happening in Terengganu," he added.
"In Kelantan, on the other hand, it is becoming apparent, and in Kedah, the cooperation is very convincing."
In Terengganu, though, he said, BN and PH would be the last to launch their election machinery – just a day before the nomination of candidates on Saturday.
PH and BN are joining hands for the first time at state-level polls after coming together to form the federal government following the 15th general election last November.
But in Terengganu, the ties appear to be under strain amid conflict over negotiations for seats.
The dispute initially arose over the seat of Bandar, the target of BN, PKR and its PH partner Amanah.
The seat was ultimately given to BN to contest, but Amanah subsequently said that it still intended to field its own candidate there come polling day.
Conflict also arose over the seat of Tepuh, which should have been given to Amanah as agreed on in a meeting of the state unity secretariat but was instead given to Umno.
A grassroots leader who asked not to be named said that Amanah was truly disappointed at the outcome.
He said Amanah was also taken aback by PKR's move on the seat, long seen as belonging to the PAS splinter.
"It is understood that this was done in exchange for PKR getting the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat and Umno getting the Tepuh state seat," he said.
"But the negotiations bypassed us and the state secretariat, going straight to the top leadership instead.
"Our biggest disappointment is over the Kuala Terengganu seat, which traditionally belongs to Amanah. Amanah won the seat before, through Raja Kamarul Bahrin."
Amanah 'bullied' by Umno, PKR
He said the moves by Umno and PKR had forced Amanah to issue another statement expressing the party's regret the day after the announcement of BN candidates for the state.
Kamarul, the Terengganu Amanah chairman, said BN's announcement had diverged from the previous agreement.
He said Amanah was also surprised by PKR's move to take the Kuala Terengganu seat.
The leader said that initially, Amanah made no move on the seat as it was understood that the petition was an effort by Umno.
"But what has happened now is very much against the principle of cooperation," he said, adding that ties between Amanah and PKR had been troubled even before these events.
The unnamed grassroots leader meanwhile said that the parties had also locked horns over the candidate for menteri besar in the event of victory at the polls.
"Amanah has never agreed to the nomination of Terengganu BN chairman Ahmad Said as either the menteri besar or the poster boy, but PKR issued a statement of support," he said.
"The same goes for the manifesto – BN launched its own manifesto without involving Amanah or PKR."
BN is fielding 27 candidates at the Terengganu election with the remaining five candidates from PH.
Terengganu has been under PAS rule since the 14th general election in 2018.