AMPANG — Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Parti Pribumi), which was met with ridicule on social media over its Malay-only membership, seemed to be a favourite among the majority Malay-Muslim population of Malaysia.
Since it’s creation, the media and whatsapp messages have been abuzz with the real potential of the newly born party. Malays are asking whether they should join the new party of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
But since last week, a clear indication came from the result of an online poll by Sinar Harian on the readers’ political preference.
Parti Pribumi garnered 36% of the votes, PAS 28%, Pakatan Harapan 27% and Barisan Nasional 2%.
It appears the old fox Mahathir has hit it right, after all, though one should not base assumptions on an online polling only.
It is, however, clear that no papers belonging to the ruling coalition are brave enough to order an online poll, pitting Parti Pribumi against other parties. The result could be disastrous for the Barisan and for Umno.
Nevertheless, unlike the Parti Amanah Nasional (PAN), which many considered as an attempt to split the opposition Malay votes and rip the Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS) of its support, Parti Pribumi has had a good start.
This despite the many criticism from liberal Malays and a large number of the non-Muslim component of Malaysia.
The fact that Parti Pribumi will be a Malay party and that non-Malays can join as associate members, is interesting.
It is a direct attack on the Malay fixed deposit that is attracted to the Umno in Peninsular Malaysia. It is clear that any party that can rip the Umno apart, and steal its voter base will cause the Barisan Nasional to suffer badly at the hands of the opposition in the next General Elections (GE).
With Dr Mahathir as chairman, former Umno deputy leader Muhyiddin Yassin as president and Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir the vice-president, the party is assured of pulling its weight among the Malays and Muslims in general.
At this moment, we know that the new party has a pro-tem committee that include the former Umno branch chief for Teluk Kemang Kamarul Azman Habibur Rahman, two former members Ainina Saadudin from Kedah and Akhramsyah Muammar Ubaidah Sanusi, and activist Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.
Another good note for the party of Tun Mahathir is The Star, the Barisan Nasional’s popular English-language paper said this week every new Malay party is a threat to existing giants like Umno and PAS.
it said Pribumi has a superstar in Dr Mahathir, and surely that will weigh in the balance in the next GE.
The Star also said it is apparent by now that Parti Pribumi does not intend to come under the Pakatan Harapan umbrella. And that could be a good sign for now, unless Pakatan Harapan were to open up to Mahathir, offering him a deal that he could not refuse. But with Anwar Ibrahim, the former opponent of Tun Mahathir in jail, Pakatan Harapan is in no position to make such offers.
The BN newspaper said the talk is that Dr Mahathir will initiate a new coalition that comprises Malay parties like PAS and the Sabah party that Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal is working on. This Malay coalition will then work with Pakatan Harapan to ensure one-to-one contests against Barisan Nasional.
The arrangement is necessary because PAS and DAP cannot stand each other and PAS refuses to have anything to do with Amanah. At a more personal level, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail refuses to appear on the same stage as Dr Mahathir, said the paper, which argued that with the dual umbrella bodies, the enemy parties can work together without appearing to do so.
This is a formula used during the time when Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah was in the opposition, leading Semangat 46 back in 1990.
The royal politician got PAS and other Islamic parties to group under Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah while more secular parties like DAP, Semangat 46 and PBS grouped under Gagasan Rakyat.
Tengku Razaleigh’s brainchild did not work well except in Kelantan where Umno was toppled.
But the formula may work this time, says experts, due to the gross unpopularity of the current Prime Minister outside the Umno.