COMMENT | Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's simple arithmetic of BN winning the state of Penang is based on the following prediction: since there are 40 state seats in Penang, all BN needs is to win 21 seats to form the government.
He thinks that Umno can win 15 seats, and he expects Gerakan to win three, MCA, two and MIC, one. This would result in a total of 21, thus enabling BN to recapture the Penang state government.
At the moment, Umno has 10 seats, whereas Gerakan, MCA and MIC have zero. How Umno can increase its haul by five seats, and how Gerakan, MCA and MIC are going to win five more remain unanswered.
The non-Malay component parties of BN were literally wiped out in the last two general elections in Penang. Gerakan, once the ruling party, could not even win a single seat there.
It is thus ironical that Penang's Gerakan chief Teng Chang Yeow has been given the responsibility to lead BN to a victory in Penang.
While BN winning 21 seats is unimaginable based on the present scenario, an interesting question would be: say that the unimaginable takes place where Umno wins 15 seats, Gerakan three, MCA two and MIC one, which party will be given the right to appoint the chief minister?
Remember the 2008 general election? The unresolved issue of who would be the chief minister and the possibility that Umno might nominate its own candidate cost not only the downfall of Gerakan but BN as a whole.
Zahid, in talking about the parliamentary seats, said that the chances of BN winning more seats are also good.
He described the possibility of winning the parliamentary seats of Nibong Tebal, Batu Kawan, Permatang Pauh and others as "bright". However, he conceded that winning Bagan, Jelutong and other Chinese-majority seats is pretty "dim".
The responsibility of wresting Penang from Pakatan Harapan is now in the hands of Penang BN chief Teng (photo). Zahid told Teng that since he is the main player, the ball was at his feet to lead BN to a stupendous victory in the state.
While such words of bravado from Zahid may go down well with BN supporters, the political reality is not that simple. The real question is whether BN, or for that matter Umno, can make a comeback in Penang. With Bersatu making inroads in predominantly Malay areas, it is doubtful whether Umno is even safe in its traditional areas.
Politics is not a one-way street. When it comes to political contests, no one party can unilaterally determine its political trajectory. In this respect, Umno must be blinded or completely out of touch with reality about its prospect of winning in Penang.
While the outcome of the coming general election cannot be taken for granted, I am sure that predictions must be made on the basis of data available. They cannot be based on wishful thinking.
Zahid might be in a high political and administrative position in the country, but such elevated position might not give him the knowledge or political insight into making such prognosis.
As it is, his predictions about the electoral outcomes in Penang are based more on wishful thinking than anything else.
BN, which was the ruling coalition, was nearly wiped out of the political landscape in Penang in the last two general elections. It still has a long way to go to make its presence in Penang felt, let alone making a comeback to a dominant position in Penang.
P RAMASAMY is Penang deputy chief minister and Perai state assemblyperson.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.