PETALING JAYA,Nov 18: Two political scientists have agreed with a survey finding that Muhyiddin Yassin enjoys widespread popular support but his party, PPBM, lacks voter appeal and he will need the help of other parties to remain in power.
Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said Muhyiddin would have to continue employing his “carrot and stick” and “divide and conquer” methods to get PPBM past the current political stalemate.
Another analyst, Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, said the opinion survey was an indication that Malaysians lacked confidence in PPBM as a party that could govern the nation without the help of others.
The two analysts were giving their responses to the findings of an opinion poll conducted by Emir Research.
The findings, released on Monday, showed that 65% of 2,000 respondents selected Muhyiddin as their preferred choice of prime minister. However, PPBM received only 8.3% support, far behind the 42.8% for Umno and the 15.5% for PAS.
Oh said the results showed that PPBM was “sorely lacking” in terms of strong ideology that could endear it to a wider audience, as it had only been used as a political vehicle of convenience, first to accommodate Dr Mahathir Mohamad and later defectors from Pakatan Harapan.
He discounted the survey finding of Muhyiddin’s popularity as the survey was conducted in August and did not take into account events such as the attempt to declare a state of emergency, and the spike in Covid-19 cases in Sabah, which had gravely affected the government’s reputation.
He said Muhyiddin was “still riding high” at the time of the survey because of declining Covid-19 infection numbers, the gradual opening up of the economy, and handouts to those hit hard by the restrictions.
“Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim, not being in government, of course could not take credit for the then emerging but subsequently submerging popular euphoria,” he said.
Azmi agreed that the survey results would be different if conducted today. Events have portrayed Muhyiddin negatively but he believed that Muhyiddin would still be the choice for prime minister, “just not as high as 65%”.
He said people regarded Muhyiddin as the better choice over the other two candidates – Mahathir, who was blamed for resigning and allowing PN to take over, and Anwar, seen as relentless for pursuing his dream to become prime minister.
Azmi said PPBM’s lack of support stemmed from the internal party bickering in the party “from when Muhyiddin first took over and right till today”. PPBM cabinet members were considered to be underperforming compared to their counterparts, especially those from Umno.
“No doubt, Muhyiddin needs other parties in order to survive, and the Sabah election results clearly demonstrate his predicament,” he said, adding that the only avenue for PPBM to win in the next general election would be to work with Umno and PAS through Muafakat Nasional.