Former Penang deputy chief minister P Ramasamy today warned against assuming that the influence of opposition pact Perikatan Nasional (PN) had peaked, following its loss at the recent by-elections in Johor where Pakatan Harapan (PH) prevailed in both Simpang Jeram and Pulai.
In a statement, he described such thinking as "wishful and immature".
"It cannot be naively assumed that the by-elections were an electoral downhill for PN having entrapped itself in unchanging race and religious rhetoric," he said.
"How can PN be said to have peaked when its support hardly peaked in the recent Johor by-elections?"
At the by-elections on Sept 9, PH candidates Suhaizan Kayat and Nazri Abdul Rahman won with majorities of about 18,000 and 3,500 respectively.
In Pulai, however, victory came with a smaller majority than the significant 33,174 margin achieved by the coalition at the 15th general election.
Ramasamy, who quit DAP last month over the party's candidate selection for the Penang state election, said it would be more appropriate to say that PN had yet to realise "its full potential".
"Malay support for PN has not peaked but has just begun, as witnessed in the Johor by-elections. The combined forces in PH-Barisan Nasional (BN) might not be powerful enough to stop the juggernaut of PN," he added.
At the Johor polls, he said, the majority of the Malays had supported PN despite the low voter turnout.
"Only 20% of Malays, the diehard Umno and PH supporters, voted for the unity government," he said.
"Yes, PH-BN candidates might have won, but whether it was based on popular support from all the ethnic communities remains to be established."
At the national level, he said, Malay support for PN stood at about 65%.
"The last general election, the recent state elections and the very recent by-elections confirm one thing: Malay support for the unity government is dwindling fast," he added.
"Given this, how could the PH-BN supporters not be aware as to what is happening on the ground?"
Instead of thinking that PN's influence had peaked, he said, it would make "more sense" to talk about what he described as "the dwindling non-Malay, particularly Indian, support for the unity government".
"The failure of the unity government to address Indian issues honestly, the dropping of certain Indian leaders in the state elections and others, have contributed to Indians shying away from the unity government," he said.
"For many Indians hoping for reforms under Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, the experience has been disappointment and disillusionment.
"Some sections of the Indian community might be turning to PN in the future, although the coalition is yet to frame an agenda for the non-Malays in the country."
Likewise, he said that while the Chinese were considered a fixed deposit for DAP, "even the Chinese turnout during the Johor by-elections was not impressive, suggesting there might be growing malaise and disenchantment with PH-BN".
"Without an alternative, the Chinese have reluctantly voted for the unity government," he said.
"There is no iron-clad guarantee that electoral politics in Johor and the country is going to adhere to some set electoral patterns or the wishful thinking of some political analysts.
"If Johor Malays can support PN, it might not have to do with the green wave, but a preference for political parties and individuals who are perceived as non-corrupt and decent."