LETTER | In a shocking twist, Pejuang president Mukhriz Mahathir recently submitted an application letter to Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairperson Muhyiddin Yassin to join the Malay-Muslim-based coalition.
It turns out that the true reason behind the diverged paths between Mukhriz and his father, former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, is not because Mukhriz is trying to seek cooperation opportunities with Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan as alleged by some insiders, but he is trying to hold hands with Muhyiddin and PAS.
The former is the one who betrayed Mahathir during the Sheraton Move and eventually kicked him out of the party he founded, while the latter is the one who he always slammed for not following true Islamic principles.
No matter what, the top leaders of PN are discussing whether to allow Pejuang to join them. Frankly speaking, Pejuang doesn’t pose any threat or benefit to PN.
Claiming to be an alternative for Malays other than Umno, during GE15, all of Pejuang’s candidates lost their deposits, showing that they are politically irrelevant even among the Malays. The Malay votes were split between Umno and PN, with only a very minor share going to Pejuang.
Therefore, there is no reason for Bersatu and PAS, the two dominant parties in PN, to worry about Pejuang clashing their interests for now. If Pejuang is accepted into the coalition, it will just be another Gerakan, which holds practically no say in the coalition’s direction.
However, from the perspective of Pejuang, joining PN may just be their best choice. Since they now pose no threat to Bersatu and PAS, they won’t need to worry about the two parties swallowing them, just like what Umno tried to do to Bersatu and PAS during their Muafakat Nasional days.
Umno’s cooperation with Harapan at the federal level has more or less driven some of its Malay base away, making it meaningless for Pejuang, another Malay nationalist party, to join BN as the Malays may just deem them as colluding with Umno to endanger their interests.
Joining Harapan may seem like a good choice, but it’s not. Yes, Pejuang can become the Malay appeal that Harapan lacks, but how many Malay supporters can it actually attract for Harapan?
Will the non-Malay voters be driven away when Harapan accepts Pejuang as a component? Both of these factors will surely lead to scepticism among top Harapan leaders on the benefit of taking in Pejuang, leading to more problems for Pejuang which is actively trying to expand and achieve political relevance.
By joining PN, Pejuang can exploit the resources that PN has to expand its base. More importantly, they can utilise the PN wave in the upcoming state elections to try to secure at least a few seats across the six states.
With the same appeal it has with Bersatu and PAS, it can slowly build up and maybe become a dominant Malay nationalist party in the next general election, completely brushing Umno off the scene. However, this path will also not be smooth for Pejuang, as Bersatu and PAS will closely monitor its growth to make sure that it does not outgrow them.
The impact of Pejuang joining PN on the Malay political landscape may seem small and insignificant for now, but it is a starting point for Pejuang to finally have a place to start expanding.
Bersatu and PAS’ willingness to accept Pejuang will determine the future of Malaysia, as any change in the Malay political landscape would mean a new political structure.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.