You Know PH-MUDA Cooperation Is The Right Formula When Extremist Hadi Attacks DAP Like A Mad Dog
AS president Abdul Hadi Awang knew his Islamist party will be wiped out again, even before the polling begins in the Johor state election. It only won 1 seat during the 2018 General Election. Yet, Hadi has been talking as if his extremist party had won 51 out of 56 seats since the state assembly was dissolved last month, paving the way for an early state election.
As one of governing partners of the federal government, PAS still thinks highly of itself. The relations between the country’s two major Malay-Muslim parties – United Malays National Organization (UMNO) and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) – started to crack once again at the negotiating table over seat allocation. UMNO could only spare 4 seats for PAS, leading to a war of words.
As the kingmaker, at least that was what the arrogant and disillusioned Hadi thought, PAS was furious that it was treated like a beggar. After all, prior to the dissolution of Johor, UMNO and PAS were part of the Barisan Nasional-led government, along with Bersatu. It was an insult to PAS because the Islamist party wanted to contest every seat that Barisan Nasional failed to win in 2018.
The war of words began when PAS fired its first salvo, accusing UMNO of being power hungry. Mr Hadi told all and sundry how PAS healed “lame duck” UMNO, who was crippled after the 2018 national election when the party lost power for the first time in 61 years since Malaysia’s independence in 1957. UMNO was projected as an ungrateful party that wanted to leave PAS.
In retaliation, UMNO accused PAS as the real lame duck, reminding Hadi how he betrayed the national cooperation between UMNO and PAS (glorified as “Muafakat Nasional” under the pretext of Malay-unity) when the Islamist party president chose to support UMNO rival Bersatu. Hadi and his minions were ‘bribed’ with ministership by Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin.
UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who once kissed and hugged Abdul Hadi Awang as if he was the last living thing on the planet, had told the PAS leader to become a “zoologist”. UMNO deputy president Mohamad Hasan told Hadi that his party did not need anyone’s help to recover. In fact, PAS was reminded that both the parties had sunk together in 2018, becoming the Opposition.
Besides self ego, there’s a reason why extremist Hadi refused to accept the 4 seats offered by UMNO. Instead of accepting the guaranteed winnable 4 seats, PAS believed it could win more seats together with Bersatu based on the assumption that Muhyiddin still possessed strong influence based on the former PM’s popularity, not to mention that Johor was also Muhyiddin’s stronghold.
More importantly, PAS had thought that the decision by newly-registered MUDA (Malaysian United Democratic Party) party to join the Johor state election would further split the opposition parties, which was already in disarray. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had decided that his party PKR will use its own logo, whereas allies DAP and Amanah insisted on using Pakatan Harapan banner.
MUDA, an acronym for “young” in Malay”, was initially left out by Pakatan Harapan in seat negotiations. The young party claims it has more than 12,000 members in the state. While it is not expected to win any seat on its own, MUDA can definitely do a lot of damage as a spoiler, what more with other opposition parties like Sabah-based Warisan and former PM Mahathir’s Pejuang in the race.
Therefore, with the Opposition heavily divided, Hadi and Muhyiddin believed that they could make UMNO run for its money, or even win unexpectedly if UMNO haters and fence sitters could be convinced or instigated to vote for Perikatan Nasional. They also hoped UMNO’s arrogance and over-confidence would backfire as young voters above 18 are allowed to vote for the first time.
However, despite minor clashes between MUDA and PKR, the opposition appears to be more united than anticipated by PAS. Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Amanah (National Trust Party) have generously offered “6 winnable seats” to MUDA, eliminating not only overlapping contests, but also enables the opposition to move together as strategic partners.
With MUDA now aligned with Pakatan Harapan, or at least with DAP-Amanah, Hadi and Muhyiddin’s game plan to isolate young voters, especially the Malay youngsters, is crushed. Sure, it’s everyone’s guess if young-centric MUDA could attract young voters. But the fact that the party was rejected twice by the Registrar of Societies during Muhyiddin regime with no apparent reasons says a lot about its threat.
And it’s precisely because MUDA has yet to be proven that it was a wise move for DAP-Amanah to keep the wild card. Many analysts had wrongly predicted that MUDA will not ally with old parties like PKR, DAP or Amanah, let alone corrupt party like UMNO or a party made of boatloads of traitors like Bersatu. They had predicted that MUDA would join forces with Warisan instead.
Even if MUDA managed to attract all the young voters, which it can’t, the young party that is still wet between ears is still too weak to win seats without support from the “old voters”. Because the majority of youngsters are anti-establishment, they are a threat to UMNO-led Barisan Nasional. The right formula is for MUDA to join forces with liberal opposition parties like DAP and Amanah.
That explains why Hadi Awang has gone bonkers – whining, screaming and bitching till foaming at the mouth like a mad dog with wild accusations that MUDA, like Amanah, was created by DAP to bait Malay youngsters. In his evil attempt to stir up racial and religion sentiments among the Malay community, Hadi repeated his extreme rhetoric that DAP was “anti-Malay, anti-Islam and anti-Monarchy”.
Hadi and Muhyiddin were hoping that given the choice between UMNO and Bersatu, young Malays would vote Perikatan Nasional under Muhyiddin leadership. In the eventuality that the youngsters vote for MUDA, it would still be acceptable because the new party will not get enough votes to win anyway. It would be disaster if MUDA votes go to Pakatan Harapan.
While Johor is expected to see a low turnout, it should experience higher turnout than Melaka state election due to the 18-21 age group of voters. Pakatan Harapan, which suffered heavy losses in Melaka as Chinese voters had either swung to Barisan Nasional or stayed at home as a sign of boycott, desperately needed the new bloc of young voters to make up the deficit.
If indeed MUDA is irrelevant, exactly why Hadi Awang felt so threatened that he had to attack DAP? The last time PAS launched such fierce attacks against DAP was after Pakatan Harapan stunningly won the general election and formed the federal government for the first time. After Pakatan government collapsed, PAS had basically stopped such attack, enjoying Mercedes and young wives.
Johor state election will see the number of voters increase by 28% with the addition of 749,731 voters aged 18 following the automatic registration of voters under the Undi18 move. It’s not rocket science that this new vote bank could change the political landscape. Even UMNO, while insisting it was not afraid of MUDA, has warned about underestimating the party formed by former sports minister Syed Saddiq.