A lot of events took place in Malaysia in the run-up to the Sabah snap elections. One of the biggest event is the defeat of ex-PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s candidate in the Slim by-election.
A huge defeat for the Pejuang-backed candidate, Amir Kusyairi Mohd Tanusi and a defeat for Tun Mahathir.
We know the results, but to repeat it for the sake of this article, the Barisan Nasional candidate Mohd Zaidi Aziz won with 13,060 votes.
The other event is the launch of the ‘Youth’ party by former Mahathir groupie Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (ex-Minister of sports in the PH regime).
Mahathir is not happy the launch of the party of youngsters. The party does not have a name yet and Mahathir’s party, Pejuang did not receive its registration certificate altogether.
Saddiq’s party says Mahathir, will divide the Malay votes. But Saddiq replied that he is not in politics to be the ‘slave’ of the Malays.
But what Mahathir is actually worried with the creation of a new party by his former leftenant, is it will add to the Pakatan Haparan’s stable of parties.
It will also attract young Malays to the party and to the PH, which will become the alternative to the PN-MN-Umno-PAS-BN alliance in power.
This means, the elderly political figure will have to fight another party on the ground if he goes rogue. By that we mean there is the possibility that Mahathir is building the new Malay party as a third force.
And with Saddiq’s party now on the way, the ‘third-force’ ground is becoming a bit crowded. It may even become over crowded if some politicians decides to break-away from their parties to form their own political parties.
PEJUANG AS A THIRD FORCE
With Mahathir’s strategy to bring down the Bersatu, we believe he is planning to build the Pejuang party into a third force.
This third force will then try to be the ‘King Maker’ just as Mahathir said he would like the party to become.
But to become a king-maker, the party must win more seats than the Bersatu did under his leadership in the 2018 elections. The 10 seats it won did not give Mahathir the power to dominate in the Pakatan Harapan government.
With the defeat he registered at Slim, it is unlikely that Mahathir will be able to grab more voters from the ruling coalition.
We say that because if he was capable of doing so, his candidate in Slim would have fared better.
Slim is a BN stronghold and grabbing more votes there while fighting virtually alone for the Pejuang candidate would have showed him the way to snatch more voters from the BN front.
Hence, we believe Mahathir has only one way to get the maximum votes possible for his Pejuang candidates.
That is to create three corner fights that will get the PH into trouble. By limiting the number of MPs for the PH, he will be able to garner sufficient support as an opposition force.
This strategy may work if the PH remains divided as it is today. While the strategy may work for Mahathir, it will be another setback for Anwar.