This was published as a Trends by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in January 2021, and the full publication can be accessed here.
• When the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government fell in
February 2020, PH also lost control over the states of Johor,
Malacca, Perak and Kedah. In Sabah, PH-aligned Warisan was
replaced by the PN-aligned United Alliance of Sabah.
• PH maintained its hold on three states—Selangor, Penang and
Negeri Sembilan. Selangor’s position is of unique interest, given the
largest share of PH assemblypersons comprising members from the
People’s Justice Party (Parti Keadilan Rakyat, or PKR), the party
which has faced significant elite splits in 2020.
• The present stability of PH’s survival in Selangor can be accounted
for by the sheer majority it possesses within the legislative
assembly, comprising forty-one out of fifty-six state seats. Unless a
significant share of assemblypersons were to defect, the change in
state government would be highly unlikely.
• PH built a strong base in Selangor during its time in power over
more than a decade, securing performative legitimacy and rooting
itself strongly within the community.
• PH has benefited from the highly urbanized and educated
demographic profile of Selangor. However, the economic fallout
from the COVID-19 pandemic has likely changed the landscape,
which may in turn affect how constituents will now respond to
goodies offered by the federal government.
• Although PH in Selangor has survived the national storm, its future
performance remains uncertain. This year’s political realignment,
public opinion towards PN and the 2018 redelineation exercise
where the number of Malay-majority seats has grown may hamper
PH’s ability to maintain its strong margin.