Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad during his policy speech at the party’s inaugural annual general meeting in December. (FILE PIC)

PAKATAN Harapan prime minister candidate, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, recently urged all its component parties to put the coalition first and party second if they’re serious about the 14th General Election. There is much disagreement on the distribution of seats among them.

As the biggest party in the coalition, DAP had the first pick of seats to contest. And, they picked 35 seats, which are Chinese-dominated areas where they have a really good chance of winning. And, since the rest of the component parties are not fighting for Chinese-dominated seats, DAP has no concerns about the seat allocation — DAP can just sit happily and receive what it asked for.

The problem is with the seats at the Malay and mixed areas. These are the seats which all other component parties in Pakatan — PKR, PAN and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) — are fighting for. Members in the coalition have voiced dissatisfaction with the seat allocation. PPBM, the smallest and junior party, was allocated the highest number with 52 seats, PKR, 51; and PAN, 27.

It is not only about the number of seats allotted to the parties, but more importantly, it is about the quality of the seats, i.e. which seats offer the best chance of victory. It is of no consequence if a party gets the highest allocation of seats, but has a fighting chance in only one or two seats. This is the case with PPBM.

For DAP, 31 of the 35 seats were won with a large majority in the urban Chinese areas in the last general election in 2013. Effectively, DAP gets the highest number of quality seats, hence it’s the biggest winner of the seat distribution in Pakatan.

After DAP, PKR gets the priority to pick the seats. As DAP and PKR leaders have already asserted that all incumbent party seats are to be maintained with the respective parties, it will leave PAN and PPBM with not many good choices in the seat allocation. They are left with Malay seats at Umno’s strongholds where BN dominates and Pakatan has the least chances of winning.

But, PPBM is not the biggest loser in the seat distribution. It is PAN. PAN received the least number of seats and has the least chances of winning. It probably feels that it is not fair to be passed by a junior and smaller party such as PPBM. No wonder it is vociferously against the seat allocation.

It seems that PAN did not get the respect it deserved in Pakatan. Other members of the coalition must see PAN as a lesser copy of Pas in Pakatan. This is evidenced by the recent spat between PKR deputy president cum Selangor menteri besar, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali with PAN in Selangor over seat allocation. This is a manifestation of a bigger problem within Pakatan. No doubt DAP is the only winner here.

Dr Mahathir must know how shameful this is; his party, PPBM, received the biggest allocation of seats, but has the least chances of winning. If he himself did not engineer this, he must have known that this is theatrical at best, window dressing to make it seem as if PPBM is the most dominant party in Pakatan, designed to attract the Malays. But, who are they kidding? Everybody knows DAP is the master of Pakatan.

Regardless, Dr Mahathir actually has a more important problem closer to heart. He has to find two good seats to contest. One for him and one for his son, Datuk Seri Mukhriz.

If Dr Mahathir and Mukhriz take Pakatan incumbent seats, either DAP, PKR or PAN will have to give up two of their precious winnable seats. This means Dr Mahathir and Mukhriz get a free ride. However, they will be seen as weak and not contributing to the coalition. Thus, they must contest at BN incumbent seats.

Rumours on the grapevine have it that possible seats are in Kedah; perhaps Langkawi, Kubang Pasu or Jerlun.

Isham Jalil, the special officer to the prime minister was recently quoted as saying: “Wherever Tun Mahathir is contesting, we will be ready for him. His fight is for a personal cause and for the continuation of his past legacy. In contrast to this, our (BN) fight is for a bigger cause and with fresh new ideas for the future. This is why we must win, and we will.”

Azmin, in a recent interview said: “If we are able to convince the rakyat, and if the rakyat can accept a 93-year-old man to lead the nation, why not? This is the best option that we (Pakatan) could offer to the rakyat.”

The Selangor menteri besar recently offered Dr Mahathir to contest in Gombak. However, the voters — who are hardcore Pas and hardcore PKR “reformasi” supporters — might not have forgiven Dr Mahathir for the excesses during his rule. Thus, it is unlikely that he will contest there. Azmin’s offer to Dr Mahathir was not a sincere one.

Reports linked Dr Mahathir to Langkawi for obvious reasons as he was the enabler of the island’s development and progress once upon a time. Although the BN incumbent, Nawawi Ahmad, won by a majority of 11,861 votes in 2013, Dr Mahathir’s aura is strong in Langkawi and not to be taken lightly.

The most intriguing other choice from the grapevine would be Putrajaya, where BN’s Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor won in 2013 with a 5,541 majority-vote.

It was during Dr Mahathir’s time that the city was built. And, like in Langkawi, many residents in Putrajaya still associate the city with the 93-year-old. Furthermore, his current headquarters, the Perdana Foundation, is in Putrajaya, making it easier for him to campaign during the election. So, Dr Mahathir may give Langkawi to Mukhriz to contest, and he himself may contest in Putrajaya. Knowing Dr Mahathir, he does not only want to contest, he wants to make a statement too — that even if Pakatan fails again to win “Putrajaya the Federal Government” in GE14, he can win “Putrajaya the seat”.

While GE14 will also decide Pakatan’s future, it sure looks like it’s Putrajaya or bust for Dr Mahathir this time.

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