Pakatan Harapan set for decisive victory in Peninsula Malaysia

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The Rembau Times has completed its ground breaking election analysis and sees an overwhelming chance that Pakatan Harapan will trounce BN-UMNO decisively in Peninsula Malaysia and go on to form the next Government of Malaysia.

This looked impossible only a few months back but things have moved quickly in favour of Pakatan Harapan. The reason for this upbeat analysis is due to 3 factors namely

  1. PAS decision to go alone gave Tun Dr Mahathir / Bersatu credence as a viable alternative to UMNO.
  2. Prime Minister Najib’s failure to call for elections in August last year led to further erosion of support due to the high cost of living.
  3. Saluran Satu voters are enamoured with Tun Dr Mahathir will ditch the Government in favour of Bersatu.

PAS plays ‘King maker’ to Pakatan Harapan.
In a 3 way contest, the winner is the party that emerges not with 50.1% of the votes but with the highest number of votes. Thus, even if PAS and UMNO equally split 66.5% of the votes in a contest, Pakatan Harapan – Bersatu will still emerge the winner with 33.4%. This key mathematical fact was something that was lost on many and part of the reason why Khairy Jamaluddin managed to upset the majority to clinch the UMNO Youth election contest in 2009. In the event of a close fight, the PAS candidate cannot donate their votes to their UMNO competitor. Both lose because both are fighting for the same base of right wing voters.

Market fragmentation happens when a dominant player suddenly loses a key customer segment to new upcoming threat. PAS decision to be even more right wing than UMNO is guaranteed to appeal to at least 25 to 35% of the Malay voters, who may have shunned them previously due to their fear of the DAP. This is bad news for UMNO as PAS is attracting the voters that used to vote for UMNO.

For Pakatan Harapan, the effect is not as simple as losing PAS voters because through Bersatu, Pakatan Harapan has made some serious inroads into the prized Malay voting bank. To start with, Pakatan Harapan or its predecessors did not enjoy any strong momentum among the Malays. In fact in the last general election, then Pakatan Rakyat trailed BN up to 35 to 40 percentage points in the Malay vote. So in this regard, Pakatan Harapan may lose some PAS voters, but not many because they were not many to start out with.

However, PAS decision to withdraw from the Opposition has beneficial consequences as well. This is because it allowed the time and space for Tun Dr Mahathir to position himself as the defacto head of the Opposition alliance, without having to share the rostrum with Hadi Awang or PAS. In fact, given that Pakatan Harapan had only a small base of Malay voters to start out with, a big swing in Saluran 1 voters, who are amazed at the tenacity of a ninety two year old Dr Mahathir in not giving up the fight will have a devastating effect to the BN-UMNO base. Furthermore, Bersatu is not lacking in qualified Malay leaders like Tun Dr Mahathir, Dato Seri Mukhriz and Tan Sri Muhiyiddin Yassin.

Bersatu led alliance has credible Malay leaders to counter Malay fears of loss of hegomony.

Lost window of opportunity for BN

Many battles turned because of indecision, or preferring to wait and see. Darius of Persia lost the war against Alexander the Great because he did not attack at night while the Greek army had retired for the night. If the Napoleon had been able to attack in the early hours they could have swept the British from the fields of Waterloo before the arrival of their Prussian allies. And if Najib had called a snap election last year, he could have easily secured victory but instead UMNO is beginning to address the sum of all fears.

The Rembau Times said that the election should have been called immediately after SEA Games of 2017. That was the last window of opportunity but the PM fluffed the chance.
At that time the Pakatan Harapan alliance was still in disarray and BN-UMNO would have more or less triumphed narrowly due to the lack of manpower and machinery on the Opposition front. By delaying the Prime Minister has handed a major tactical advantage to the Opposition in terms of organising a credible machinery. At the same time, it caused support for BN-UMNO to slip further due to the wide discontentment over the high cost of living.

 

According to Bank Negara’s estimates, Perceived Inflation is running at almost 18% per annum. This is a massive game changer that affects the adversely affects BN support among the entire Malay voting base.

When considering all these factors, the Rembau Times is predicting a major upset victory for Pakatan Harapan in Peninsula Malaysia. The rationale for the analysis is actually not that surprising once people consider the key driving factors.

BN losing its overwhelming Malay base advantage over its closest challenger

Pakatan Harapan has a big advantage in terms of a solid Chinese support, which is estimated at 85%. It also crucially gains a strong advantage in terms of “Others” support – namely the Thais and Orang Asli, also at 85% due to Dr Mahathir’s influence in the North. In terms of Indian support, the great emphasis shown by the Prime Minister to the community should see BN-UMNO win this segment by 15 percentage points.

However the issue facing BN-UMNO is the misunderstanding of the ‘Malay Tsunami’.
For the last 2 elections, the Malays had voted solidly for Barisan Nasional, with support near 70% and more importantly at least 40 percentage points wider than their closest rival. As Tan Sri Muhiyiddin had correctly pointed out when he was the chair of the Barisan Nasional election machinery, it does not take a big swing to change the election result. This is because of the solid Non-Malay support for the Opposition, BN-UMNO needs to maintain a very wide margin of victory over its closet rival. It needs the Malay vote to be solidly in one direction. In marketing science terminology, BN simply cannot afford the Malay vote to get fragmented. They must at all times pit the outcome as one vs one, rather that one of several outcomes.

To give you an understanding of this, BN-UMNO- UMNO will need to maintain at least a 30
percentage point margin over Pakatan Harapan to win Peninsula Malaysia and thus form a Federal Government with East Malaysia MPs support. With this, BN-UMNO wins about 87 seats in Peninsula Malaysia and could just about form a 2/3 majority Government.

However if the Malay vote fragments, BN-UMNO is in serious trouble. If BN maintains maintains a 25 percentage point margin over Pakatan Harapan, it loses Peninsular Malaysia, with 78 seats compared with 87 seats to Pakatan Harapan, but could still form a Government albeit with support of East Malaysia MPs.

At Janda Baik, then UMNO Deputy President gave an outline of how precarious the party position becomes with a small swing in Malay votes

Things goes seriously downhill once the Malay advantage margin for BN over Pakatan Harapan falls to 20 percentage points or lower. Under this scenario, BN could win only 70 seats in Peninsular Malaysia and Pakatan Harapan will have 97 seats. In this scenario, it is bad news for the Prime Minister. The election result would have spooked may in UMNO and they would ditch the PM in the blink of the eye and probably form a comprise government with Zahid Hamidi, Dr Mahathir, Tan Sri Muhiyiddin in the frame. This will be done most likely in the name of national unity and may see Najib be allowed a graceful exit but bad news for a lot of the other 1MDB conspirators.

But if UMNO’s Malay advantage margin sinks to less than 15% over Pakatan Harapan then it is game over BN-UMNO. Under this scenario, BN may end up as a glorified PAS, getting about 40% of Malay support but not enough to win many mixed seats. Under this scenario, Pakatan Harapan runs away with a strong victory in Peninsular Malaysia and may actually be able to form a 2/3 majority Government with PBB-Sarawak.

Surprisingly, under all these scenarios PAS becomes a defeated entity. PAS role in fragmenting the Malay voting base actually would have paved the way for a decisive Pakatan Harapan victory. Stranger things may happened in politics but the Rembau Times is backing Pakatan Harapan forming a Government with about 130 to 140 seats in Parliament.

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