PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Harapan and the Umno-PAS pact will face each other in at least 100 parliamentary and 299 state seats in the next general election.
In the 14th General Election (GE14) last year, Pakatan, Umno and PAS contested against each other in three-cornered fights for these Malay-majority constituencies.
With both Malay-Muslim opposition parties joining forces, these will be the seats where the Umno-PAS pact and Pakatan will be fighting their most intense battles in GE15.
Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa said both Umno and PAS will be sharing their resources and expertise under a joint charter that will be signed on Sept 14.
He said both parties have not discussed seat allocations and declined to comment on the number of seats the pact will be eyeing.
“There are so many new parties nowadays whereas we are the most experienced in terms of running the country and states.
“This is what we will offer the people, ” he said.
Annuar said it is still premature for both Umno and PAS to start seat negotiations.
The current focus, he said, is to explain the deal to members and bring both parties closer.
Of the 100 parliamentary seats where Umno, PAS and Pakatan squared off against each other in GE14, 82 had more than 65% Malay voters.
The scenario was similar for the 299 state seats, of which 249 had 65% or more Malay voters.
The Umno secretary-general claimed that the Umno-PAS alliance will not rely merely on Malay-Muslim issues to grow its support.
“People accuse us of all sorts of things and say that by joining forces, Umno and PAS will be like the Taliban, but this is just not true, ” he said.
He said that with a pact in place, both parties will engage with non-Muslims and work to widen their alliance to include other parties representing all groups in the country.
Political analyst and Universiti Sains Malaysia social science lecturer Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said the Umno-PAS cooperation may give the parties an advantage if they focus on building their strength.
“On paper, Umno and PAS have the edge to win more seats if they build a solid pact, but whether they will be able to win all the seats (against Pakatan) is a challenge as of now.
“The Umno-PAS pact is still in the early stages of building momentum, although in the by-elections we saw a huge impact in Cameron Highlands, Semenyih and Rantau.
“Umno-PAS must focus on building their strength before looking at Pakatan’s weaknesses, ” he said.
The strength of the pact, he added, will be dependent on factors such as their prime minister candidate and their seat distribution strategy.
As for young voters, he added that the impact of their voting pattern cannot be properly gauged for now as most are unlikely to vote based on party loyalty.
“Malaysian voters are very much ‘partyless’ nowadays and now vote based on issues, ” he said.
In March, The Star reported that an Umno-PAS pact will pose a serious threat to Pakatan.
This is because the GE14 results showed that there are 21 Pakatan parliamentary seats where the votes for the Umno and PAS candidate combined were more than the ballots received by the Pakatan victors.
Among big-name MPs in these seats are the mentris besar of Kedah Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir (Jerlun) and Perak’s Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu (Tambun); as well as Cabinet ministers including Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (Kulim-Bandar Baharu) and Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof (Parit Buntar).