PETALING JAYA: The support of Malaysians beyond the Malay-Muslim community will decide which coalition has the upper hand at the next general election, politicians and analysts said yesterday.

Barisan Nasional, although boosted by the Umno-PAS unity charter, needs to win the hearts and minds of Malay voters while maintaining a balance by not alienating the non-Malays, they pointed out.

Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said Umno and PAS need the support of non-Malays and non-Muslims to wrest back political power.

“The cooperation of Umno and PAS alone will not bring about the expected political victory,” he said yesterday.

“To become the government, Umno and PAS need the support of every Malaysian, not just Malays and Muslims.”

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng called for Sabah and Sarawak to become key decision makers to reject irresponsible fascist and racist politics, and play a key role in creating a moderate Malaysia.

“Only a moderate Malaysia that respects the rights of all races, religions and backgrounds in a diverse community, can succeed in implementing shared prosperity,” said Lim, who is also finance minister.

Asia Institute Tasmania director Prof James Chin said it was natural for parties to seek to win the hearts and minds of Malays as power lies in rural seats and that the majority of voters are Malay.

“There are about 100 rural Malay seats. The trick is to balance wooing them and not alienate non-Malays,” he told theSun.

On the day Umno and PAS formalise their alliance, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government unveiled its “Shared Prosperity” vision to address inequality and poverty from 2021 to 2030.

Chin said it was unclear who the Malay voters would choose as the Umno-PAS alliance was playing with sentiments by pushing Malay-Muslim supremacy, while PH was offering practical help in getting a better life.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia political analyst Prof Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin said PH and Barisan Nasional have to woo the fence sitters who swung the last general election in PH’s favour.

“If the fence sitters shift their support to Umno-PAS, then PH will have a lot of problems, as PH won many seats with a margin of less than 1,000 votes.”

He also said the fence sitters were mainly young voters aged 21 to 35 who do not have a strong political affiliation, and rely on social media to get information.

“They are very vocal and social media-savvy. In one stroke, they can say they won’t vote for anybody, unlike the older voters in the kampung where political candidates have to individually meet the people.

“The new voters don’t need this old style of campaigning and they don’t care.”

Research think-tank Ilham Centre chief executive officer Azlan Zainal said there were many technical issues that need to be resolved by both Umno and PAS before they could gain from the affiliation.

“To prove to the people that they are serious and ready to rule Malaysia after the next general election, Umno and PAS need to form coalition state governments in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Perlis.

“This will increase the confidence of the people and voters,” said Azlan.

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