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Discontent with BN will drive Malays towards opposition: Mukhriz

SINGAPORE — Opposition party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) expects a Malay tsunami at the coming general election that it hopes will pave the way for the Pakatan Harapan (PH) pact to take over the reins of government.

PPBM deputy president Mukhriz Mahathir. TODAY file photo

PPBM deputy president Mukhriz Mahathir. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — Opposition party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) expects a Malay tsunami at the coming general election that it hopes will pave the way for the Pakatan Harapan (PH) pact to take over the reins of government.

PPBM deputy president Mukhriz Mahathir said Malay voters in the rural heartlands — the traditional vote bank for the United Malays National Organisation (Umno) — are disenchanted with the ruling party over various issues including the rising cost of living as well as the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax.

He says his fledgling organisation is tapping this discontent.

“By focusing on seats traditionally held by Umno and convincing its members to ditch the party and join us, we are confident of breaking Umno’s armour,” he said at a talk on his party’s role in the Malaysian political landscape organised by the Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute yesterday.

“We are certain of winning enough seats to enable PH to defeat (ruling coalition Barisan Nasional) BN in the coming polls.”

The bumiputra-centric PPBM was formed last year by several leaders who left Umno, led by Mr Mukhriz’s father, former premier Mahathir Mohamad.

This followed a fallout with Prime Minister Najib Razak, whom Dr Mahathir has accused of corruption following the news of RM2.6 billion (S$842.1 million) being deposited into the premier’s private accounts, as well as of financial irregularities in state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

PPBM has aligned itself with PH.

Malaysia’s 14th general election must be held by next year but there is speculation that the polls will be held this year.

Speaking to TODAY after his lecture, Mr Mukhriz said PPBM has been working the Malay ground.

He expressed concern that Chinese voters — who have backed the opposition in the 2008 and 2013 general elections — may run out of patience with PH.

“The Chinese need to see the Malays step up and support the opposition. If they sense that the Malays are still with Umno, they may not come back in droves like they did in the last two elections. In order to convince them (to stick with us), they need to be convinced that the Malays will do the same,” he said.

However, several analysts were sceptical about PPBM’s chances.

“It is going to be difficult for them to engineer a Malay tsunami,” said Mr Adib Zalkapli, a political analyst at political risk advisory firm Vriens & Partners. “The idea of voting for a stronger opposition is almost unheard of in Malay political discourse.”

Mr Wan Saiful Wan Jan, a visiting senior fellow at Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute, said it remains to be seen if the dissatisfaction among rural Malays will translate into votes for PPBM and PH.

“Due to loyalty to Umno, the Malays, especially those in the rural areas, are reluctant to vote for anyone (else). But this is not impossible. It is not easy but if anyone can break Umno’s hold, it is PPBM,” he said.

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