Malaysia elections: Internal dissent heats up as both BN and PH name polls candidates

Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan political coalitions cannot afford to allow the unhappiness of their party members to fester, as Nomination Day and the 11-day campaigning period starts on April 28.
Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan political coalitions cannot afford to allow the unhappiness of their party members to fester, as Nomination Day and the 11-day campaigning period starts on April 28.PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, ARIFFIN JAMAR

KUALA LUMPUR - Both Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) political coalitions face turmoil in the ranks in the last few days as they began to name candidates for the general election.

Some of the troubles seem to have been caused by deflated egos of candidates who were dropped or told to run in wards that they would likely lose, others caused by new tensions between old factions, or by fresh moves to muscle into what is seen as the seat of another.

 

Both sides cannot afford to allow the unhappiness of their party members to fester, as Nomination Day and the 11-day campaigning period starts this Saturday.

The most senior leaders will usually intervene in these cases to mollify all sides, failing which campaigns at the constituency level could be sabotaged and seats lost to the other side.

In Wangsa Maju, a Kuala Lumpur constituency, there was a move to remove all BN flags already planted in some areas when there were rumours last week that the seat that BN member Umno contested in the last election would be handed to the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA).

BN confirmed on Sunday that MCA will contest Wangsa Maju. The Umno division chief Mohd Shafei Abdullah for the area told Malaysiakini online news on Monday (April 23) that he is taking a "rest". When asked whether he would help in the campaigning after his rest, he said: "You ask yourself, lah."

Asked about the switch to MCA on Sunday, BN secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said: "Shafei had worked for the past four years, I am not denying that. Umno wanted the seat badly, but due to our BN spirit, we need to negotiate and look at things in a broader way."

Trouble could also be brewing in another KL seat, Segambut, an opposition stronghold.

The 13-member BN said vice-president Loga Bala Mohan from myPPP, one of its smallest components, will contest the seat. That is the only seat given to myPPP, which was formerly called People's Progressive Party.

This has left the party's long-term president M. Kayveas without a seat to contest. Datuk Seri Kayveas told Malaysiakini on Monday about the KL seat: "I will not say anything, it is up to him (Loga). But it is not my decision or the decision of the party."

Mr Kayveas has been lobbying to be fielded in Cameron Highlands, a BN seat, and threatened recently to pull myPPP out of BN if he doesn't get it.

In Sarawak, another BN component, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) has sacked its deputy president Joseph Entulu, a Minister in the Prime Minister's Deparment, and four other top leaders over an infraction, The Star newspaper reported on Monday.

The move prevents them from contesting as BN candidates but they could run as independent candidates that would result in multi-cornered fights to advantage the opposition.

 
 
 

On the other side of the political divide, there are several unresolved issues in PH that could be a drag on its plan to put up an image of a united front.

In Sabah state, PH has a loose alliance with Parti Warisan Sabah - the new party formed by former Umno vice-president Shafie Apdal that is expected to put BN on the defensive.

Warisan has asked that one of the four PH parties, Islam-leaning Parti Amanah Negara, to stay out of Sabah.

But Amanah insists it will stand in two state seats, with harsh words traded publicly in the last few days between their leaders.

But the most serious infighting in PH involves the two opposition factions in Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

The party is divided between its president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and vice-president Rafizi Ramli on one side, and deputy president Azmin Ali on the other.

Both sides want their proposed list of candidates in Selangor state to be fully accepted. They have had talks but is nowhere near resolution.

Selangor has been controlled by the federal opposition parties in the last 10 years, with PKR being the lead party. Hence, the bitter fight to have their faction's team members at the top.

Datuk Seri Azmin on Monday went to see PKR's de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim to help resolve the fight, according to the Malay Mail Online news site.

Anwar, who is behind bars for a sodomy conviction, is currently being treated for an ailment at the University Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre. There is no word yet on what had transpired in the meeting.