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DAP must soften stance for Bersatu to win over Malays, says analyst

DAP must soften its pro-equality stance if it is serious in working with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) to garner the support of the Malay electorate, says the politics, security and international affairs cluster head of National Professors Council, Mohamed Mustafa Ishak.

Otherwise, Mohamed Mustafa said, it would be difficult for Bersatu to sway Malay voters to side with the opposition in future elections.

Although Pakatan Harapan partners are officially equals, he said, many Malay voters see DAP as the dominant party in the opposition coalition.

“In my view, DAP should soften its stance on this if the party is serious about working together with Bersatu. If it still remains in that position, it will be difficult for the opposition to get the support of the Malays,” Mohamed Mustafa told Malaysiakini today.

He said this when asked to comment on the relations between DAP and Bersatu, following the call for a Malay-based opposition coalition by Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin.

However, DAP's organising secretary Anthony Loke said Malaysians do not wish to see another Umno taking shape.

Mohamed Mustafa said he believes Muhyiddin was, through his speech, trying to alleviate Malay concerns about DAP's dominance in the opposition.

“While opposing the ideas of Muhyiddin, they must realise that they might go against the objective of Harapan to get the support of the Malays.

“Then the BN, particularly Umno, would say, 'Look, Harapan is led by DAP, not led by a Malay party. Whereas Umno is in BN that is led by a Malay party'.

“So, that would create a concern among Malays who might want to try for Harapan...

“If you oppose that, then you are going to create a situation where BN would say that it is true, Pakatan is led by DAP and here is what DAP is saying,” Mohamed Mustafa added.

Harapan overestimating Mahathir factor

Meanwhile, Asia Institute Tasmania director James Chin said such statements from DAP and Bersatu would likely continue, as both parties were trying to appeal to their respective support bases.

Chin said both parties would cooperate with one another despite their differences.

This is because DAP knows it would need Bersatu to win over rural Malay and East Malaysia voters, which are crucial voting blocs in deciding the outcome of general elections.

“DAP and Bersatu know the next general election is the final straw for Harapan. If Harapan cannot capture the government with (Bersatu chairperson) Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s help, then it says a lot about the opposition,” he added.

However, Chin warned that the kingmaker in the next general election might turn out to be PAS, rather than Bersatu.

He said as long as PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang sides with Umno president Najib Abdul Razak, then Bersatu would find it difficult to penetrate Malay-dominant constituencies.

“My take is that Harapan is overestimating Mahathir's popularity in rural Malay areas.

“A whole new generation of voters know little of Mahathir, and most people, including the Malays, do not want to go back to Mahathir's strongman approach,” Chin told Malaysiakini.

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