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Faced with 'existential threat', PH banking on redrawing election map to survive, says Khairy

The former Umno Youth chief says the coalition is bent on boosting its numbers in the Dewan Rakyat to get the two-thirds majority needed to carve more seats from its strongholds.

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Bogged down by a weak partner, Pakatan Harapan is unlikely to stay in power after the next polls unless it carves out more seats in its favour.
Bogged down by a weak partner, Pakatan Harapan is unlikely to stay in power after the next polls unless it carves out more seats in its favour.

Former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin says Pakatan Harapan (PH) is facing an existential threat, and that the only way the coalition can survive the next polls is to redraw election boundaries to carve out more parlimentary seats from its strongholds.

Commenting on Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's continued refusal to release development allocations for opposition MPs despite the coalition's election promise in the last polls, the former Umno Youth leader said it reflected PH's fear of losing power.

"This person will do anything to stay in power because he knows he doesn't have the mandate from the people, no one won a majority," Khairy said in the latest episode of the Keluar Sekejap podcast which he co-hosts with former Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan.

"So any action is towards extending the life of the existing government."

Khairy also said PH knew it was impossible for it to survive the next polls with the current election boundaries.

As such, he said the government would need to get as many MPs as possible on its side as it prepares to table a bill on redeliniation, which will need a two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat.

Khairy said this was why Anwar had insisted that MPs enter into negotiations with the government before getting constituency funds – in the hope that they would return the gesture by supporting government bills.

He also questioned the prime minister's frequent reference to the confidence and supply agreement that former prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob entered into with the opposition to ensure political stability during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Anwar Ibrahim insists that opposition MPs negotiate with the government before development funds released to them.
Anwar Ibrahim insists that opposition MPs negotiate with the government before development funds released to them.

"But Ismail Sabri was in a situation of the pandemic, we wanted to get out of the pandemic.

"The government of the day wants you to sign this because it is existential. He wants to get everyone's agreement: 'I'll only give the allocation if you sign an agreement that you will not vote against this government in any confidence motion'," said Khairy.

Six MPs from Bersatu have so far declared support for the prime minister in the Dewan Rakyat in the hope of receiving constituency funds.

Muda chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman meanwhile has been vocal against the government's refusal to give equal development allocations to opposition-held constituencies.

The Muar MP recently undertook a 200km run from his constituency to the Parliament building in a solo protest to highlight the issue.

"This is no longer a matter of negotiation but revenge politics that is punishing the people in opposition constituencies. This is wrong and we must oppose it together," Syed Saddiq said as he arrived at Parliament on Monday morning.

'PH can't win without Mahathir'

Khairy said the fact remained that PH did not receive the mandate to govern, but was instead handed power after achieving the majority needed through a "post-electoral compromise".

Former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
Former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said the PH victory in the 2018 general election was due to Dr Mahathir Mohamad's involvement, describing it as a feat impossible for the three-party coalition to repeat.

"We must accept the fact that PH has never won an election except in 2018 with Mahathir. Only with Mahathir can they win elections," he said, adding that PH was now bogged down by its partner Umno that could not deliver votes for the government.

"Umno cannot give the same impact as Mahathir gave to PH in 2018."

The 2022 general election saw none of the three main coalitions - PH, Perikatan Nasional or Barisan Nasional (BN) - winning a simple majority to form the government. 

The hung parliament ended with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong appointing Anwar as prime minister after he managed to get support from BN, as well as from Sarawak's GPS and several smaller parties in Sabah.

"His Majesty reminds all parties that those who won did not win everything and those who lost did not lose everything," a palace statement had said in naming Anwar as the 10th prime minister.

Asked by his co-host Shahril about "how much more comfort" the government was seeking to stay in power, Khairy said the ultimate aim was to amend the constitution to change election boundaries in its favour.

"What he wants is two-thirds (majority)."

Syed Saddiq's announcement that he was revoking support for the government last year ended its fragile two-thirds majority.

This led to the government having to depend on the support of the six Bersatu MPs who defected.

Their move caused them to lose their party memberships, and their seats are expected to be declared vacant based on the anti-party hopping law passed in 2022.

The government is hoping to avoid the by-elections, which would mostly be in opposition strongholds and might set back its quest for a two-thirds majority.

Khairy said PH's election victory could not go further than its current numbers unless it redrew the election map.

He said this way, the coalition could carve out more seats in strongholds such as Puchong, Bangi and Seputeh.

"These are seats which will vote for PH till kingdom come. That is what's happening here.

"Only with this will PH be able to gain absolute victory without Mahathir, without Umno," he added.