Najib announced the BN was ready to form government in Perak (file pic)
AFTER the state of political turmoil in Perak, following Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s press conference where he said that the Barisan Nasional (BN) is ready to form government in the state, rumours are swirling on the possible fall of other states.
We’ll first look at Perak — whether there will be even more defections in the coming days. Then look at the situation in Selangor, Kedah and Penang.
Political analyst Wong Chin Huat said there would likely be more defections in Perak as the BN would want to balance out its overwhelming Malay majority in the state assembly.
Wong noted that of the 31 seats held by BN, 29 representatives were Malay and only two were Chinese, adding that such a government was not representative of the demographics of the state.
Wong said all eyes are now set on the Sultan of Perak’s decision on whether to allow a snap election as requested by the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government. The Perak Ruler’s decision would set a precedent for the entire nation, he added.
Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng is confident that the Perak scenario is not likely to repeat itself in Selangor.
“There is a bigger majority in the Pakatan Rakyat government there, so it’s unlikely to happen,” he said. “In any event, if the BN were able to engineer a defection, it’s not a long-term gain for the BN, as they will have to face the people in the next election. Then they will suffer.”
PR holds 36 of the 56 state seats (PAS has eight, DAP 13, and Parti Keadilan Rakyat 15). BN has 20 seats.
Commenting on the disclosure by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that there were talks between Umno and PAS to form a state government after the March 8, 2008 general election, Khoo said that he has not seen anything yet that would indicate this would lead to anything concrete.
PAS political analyst Asmawi Mohamad said that Perak was a special case. The composition in Perak was loose from the start — it was not one of the states that PR was really interested in taking over, hence the selection of candidates was very lax, he said.
“I will say that the PR candidates in Selangor are more principled, they wouldn’t switch camps easily,” he said. “However, I am a bit worried about Kedah, but if there is a weak link in that government, it would be in the PKR, not in the PAS component.”
In the northern state of Kedah, the PAS-led Pakatan Rakyat government currently has 22 seats to the BN’s 14. Although this looks like a comfortable majority, the reality is that the BN needs only five defections to obtain a simple majority.
Even if five assemblypersons choose to leave their parties to become independents, BN could still form a minority government after reaching agreements with the five.
After independent V Arumugam of Bukit Selambau joined PKR following last year’s election, PKR has five state assemblypersons. PAS has 16 while DAP has one.
“Kedah’s situation is very different from Perak,” Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, the MP for Jerlun, told The Edge Financial Daily. “Kedah is a PAS-led government.” He added that if there were defections they would most probably come from PKR.
“It’s hard to understand what PKR actually stands for besides being an Anwar Ibrahim party,” Mukhriz said. “DAP is a non-issue in Kedah and PAS (members) never seem likely to abandon theirs, hence PKR is the likeliest.”
Signs that there have been attempts at gaining defections were also confirmed on Tuesday when Kedah exco Arumugam alleged that he was offered RM5 million to cross over to BN.
According to news website Malaysiakini.com, Bakar Arang’s Tan Wei Shu and Kulim’s Lim Soo Nee, both of PKR, have also been approached to jump ship. Lim said he was contacted twice by different individuals between March and April last year.
PKR’s other assemblypersons are Tan Joo Long@Tan Chow Kang (Sidam) and Mohd Razhi Salleh (Lunas), who is also an executive councillor.
Penang is the least likely of the five Pakatan Rakyat-led states to face a similar fate as Perak as the PR coalition has a two-thirds majority in the state (29 vs BN’s 11).
PR’s majority in Penang comprises DAP with 19 seats, PKR with nine and PAS with one.
DAP’s Bukit Bendera parliamentarian Liew Chin Tong said there is no possibility of a swing in Penang because PR has a solid 18-seat majority.
Political analyst Khoo concurred that Penang was unlikely to see a change in government as it would require 10 representatives to defect and that’s a tall order.
“The Penang state government would be the very last PR state to fall should that happen at all,” Khoo said. “It looks rock solid for the moment.”
This analysis first appeared on 5 Feb 2009 in The Edge Financial Daily under the title Are other Pakatan states in danger?. Used with permission.