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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Analyst: Azmin has option to delay state polls until after GE14

If PAS does not perform well in GE14, then PKR will have the advantage when negotiating on an electoral pact in Selangor, says analyst Wong Chin Huat.
Wong-Chin-Huat-pkr-Azmin-Ali-1PETALING JAYA: Selangor menteri besar Azmin Ali can delay the state election until after the federal polls to see whether Pakatan Harapan (PH) needs PAS to prevent Barisan Nasional (BN) capturing the state, a political analyst has suggested.
Speaking to FMT, Wong Chin Huat said Prime Minister Najib Razak was unlikely to wait till his mandate expired to call for the 14th general election (GE14), which meant Azmin could wait to call the state election at the end of a full term.
“So go into GE14 without PAS, and look at how they perform in a three-way fight. After that, PKR will know where they stand at the negotiating table,” he said.
Wong said if PAS fared well in GE14, then PKR would likely need their help to retain Selangor in a state election.
But, should PAS not perform well in GE14, then it is PKR who would have the advantage when negotiating in Selangor.
“Not unlike shopping and love, one should bargain for an electoral pact from a position of strength, not from that of weakness.
“If you look desperate for a deal, you look exploitable and will be taken for a ride, notwithstanding your good intention and sincerity,” he said.
Wong was commenting on the debate raging within PKR which has seen Azmin, the deputy president, and vice president Rafizi Ramli taking opposing stands on negotiating an electoral pact with PAS to face BN in straight fights.
Earlier, Rafizi mooted a special congress to leave the decision on cooperation with PAS to the grassroots to break the impasse in the PKR top leadership.
‘Where possible and not at a high cost’
Wong, who is a political scientist at the Penang Institute, said he understood both Azmin and Rafizi’s views on working with PAS.
“Azmin clearly wants to avoid three-cornered fights, especially in Selangor as this would be to PKR’s disadvantage.
“On the other hand, Rafizi feels working with PAS may anger the voters and PAS may still play them out.”
Wong said although he did not believe PH could not survive without PAS, it might be good for them to have PAS on their side to avoid three-cornered fights, but only where possible and not at a high cost.
He added that although parliamentary elections would not necessarily reflect voting patterns in a state election, the outcome would provide PKR with an indicator on the sentiments on the ground.
“Right now, PKR won’t have anything to lose by waiting till after GE14 (to hold state polls in Selangor). In contrast, begging an arrogant PAS for a deal before GE14 won’t look good.”
Azmin stands to lose out
“For all his sincerity to forge an electoral pact that keeps PAS in the PH fold, Azmin has been backstabbed by PAS Selangor,” said Wong.
He said despite Azmin’s offer of the olive branch, PAS had announced its intention to contest against him and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail in Selangor.
“If PKR is not at all prepared for war while seeking peace, it will look weak and, ironically, embolden PAS’ pro-Umno faction to force extensive multi-cornered contests,” he said.
Wong said in Malay politics, weak leadership was “deadly” and Azmin should seriously assess the damage to his image as a leader caused by PAS’ ungrateful attack.
“If he continues to look weak, some may question his ability to helm the nation someday.”
However, Azmin has denied that the talks with PAS were his initiative, saying the move was a party decision and he was merely representing his party in the informal discussions.
Selangor PAS recently dismissed speculation of a deal with PKR.
Instead, PAS said it would field candidates in at least 42 state seats in Selangor, including against Azmin in Bukit Antarabangsa and Wan Azizah in Kajang.
The statement got a rare rebuke from Wan Azizah, who said the Islamist party was not serious in toppling BN.
Coalitions can be formed after elections
Wong also suggested that PKR should not confine themselves to Malaysian political norms in deciding whether to work with PAS.
He said that in Malaysia, people were too fixated on political norms, instead of seeing how political parties operated overseas.
For one, he said, the idea of political coalitions in Malaysia were that they had to be “marriages of love”, so only like-minded parties would form a permanent coalition together before elections.
But in established democracies, Wong said that coalitions were more often formed after elections with different parties signing “pre-nuptials” which outline their conditions for working together. -FMT

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