Opposition spat could help BN get 2/3 majority

JOHOR BARU • Malaysia's opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), which is hit by leadership infighting over whether to continue working with Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) in Selangor, is now tussling with another ally, the Democratic Action Party (DAP), in Johor.

The endless opposition bickering could turn away voters, some analysts warn, and allow the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition to win back the two-thirds majority in Parliament that it lost in 2008.

PKR Johor leader Steven Choong on Thursday attacked DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang for saying DAP is eyeing one of three parliamentary seats in southern Johor that were contested by PKR in 2013.

Mr Choong said PKR has been servicing the constituencies of Tebrau, Pasir Gudang and Johor Baru, while the DAP machinery there is weak.

Mr Lim hit back yesterday, saying he was disappointed that a PKR leader, and not BN, had stooped to "a campaign of lies, fake news and false information".

The spat comes amid infighting in Selangor that could result in Malaysia's richest state returning to BN. Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali wants to continue working with PAS in Selangor.

But PKR's leadership council decided this week to drop ties with PAS, which is cosying up to Umno.

But totally erasing ties with Malay-Muslim party PAS could badly weaken the four-party opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan (PH).

"If PH and PAS do not have a pact, it's not impossible for BN to seize a two-thirds majority again," said Mr Ibrahim Suffian, director of polling outfit Merdeka Centre, as quoted in The Malaysia Insight news site.

BN has 132 seats in the 222-seat Parliament, just 16 wards shy of a two-thirds majority.

In the 2013 polls, 16 of the seats taken by the opposition were won with 3,000 votes or fewer. Of these, 13 were Malay-majority seats, Malaysiakini said. These seats are vulnerable, said Professor Mustafa Ishak, an analyst.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2017, with the headline 'Opposition spat could help BN get 2/3 majority'. Print Edition | Subscribe