Melaka polls to see clash between parties to win rural, Malay votes: Analysts

Polling will take place on Nov 20, 2021, after the 28-seat Melaka state assembly was dissolved on Oct 4.
Polling will take place on Nov 20, 2021, after the 28-seat Melaka state assembly was dissolved on Oct 4.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Melaka polls will likely see a clash between major political parties to win rural and Malay votes in a bid to recapture the Malaysian state, say political pundits.

Analysts also pointed out that the outcome of the polls would indicate how the Malays will vote in the next general election.

Universiti Putra Malaysia's political analyst Jayum Jawan said Melaka would be an interesting test case following the downfall of Umno as the dominant Malay political party in the 2018 general election, with many states also going to its opponents.

"Is there going to be any consolidation of Malay political support and therefore the re-emergence of Malay political dominance?" he said.

"This will be reflected in the coming state election, although Melaka might not be representative of the whole of the peninsula."

Polling will take place on Nov 20.

The 28-seat state assembly was dissolved on Oct 4 after four representatives withdrew their support for the leadership of then Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali.

Professor Jayum noted that the Malays would have a choice of either returning power to Umno or shifting their support to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and its allies under Perikatan Nasional (PN).

As for Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), he said it might benefit from Chinese votes by being affiliated with the Democratic Action Party (DAP) under Pakatan Harapan (PH).

International Islamic University political analyst Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod also expected Malay support to be split due to the expected three-cornered fight.

"It will also be interesting to see the internal fights within Umno and the candidates selected to contest seats the party previously lost," he said.

Under PN, he said, it appeared Bersatu, Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) and Gerakan would likely divide the seat allocation using a 10:10:8 formula.

Prof Nik Ahmad said Umno would likely retain the Malay majority constituency where it had strong grassroots support.

"However, if PKR comes in and further divides the Malay votes in certain mixed seats, the outcome may differ," he said.

Professor Nik Ahmad also did note expected major shifts for DAP in terms of support in urban seats.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said Umno would not cooperate with Bersatu in the state polls.

Perikatan chairman Muhyiddin Yassin had stated that the coalition was prepared to face a three-cornered fights in Melaka.

Before dissolution, the government bench had 17 representatives: 14 from Umno, two from Bersatu and one Independent.

PH had 11 representatives: seven from DAP and two each from PKR and Amanah.

Local political observer in Melaka, Mr Michael Ching, forecasts multi-way contests in at least five seats - Gadek, Machap Jaya, Durian Tunggal, Pengkalan Batu and Rembia.

He also did not rule out the possibility of Bandar Hilir, a DAP stronghold, witnessing a multi-cornered contest despite the incumbent, Datuk Tey Kok Kiew, securing an overwhelming 11,313 majority in the last general election.

Mr Ching added that Barisan Nasional had a good chance of winning big in rural state seats if they named caretaker chief minister, Mr Sulaiman, the incoming chief minister if the coalition were to win the election.

Another analyst, Dr Mohd Akbal Abdullah, was of the view that it would be hard for new faces to secure the traditional seats of Umno and DAP.

As for Independent candidates, he said they might make some impact in certain seats but it would be difficult for them to secure majority votes.