Visit our new website:

Deal delivers boost to Malaysia’s opposition, but it’s still “not going to win”

  • Tue, 18 Jul 2017 07:19

The opposition coalition has brought an end to the impasse between factions led by Anwar Ibrahim and Mahathir Mohamad, but analysts say the deal is unlikely to have a decisive impact on the upcoming general election

Jailed Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim pays last respect to his late father in Kajang, Malaysia, 05 April 2015. Photo: EPA/Fazry Ismail

The Malaysian opposition coalition received a welcome boost on Friday when a deal was struck to make Anwar Ibrahim the de facto leader of Pakatan Harapan (PH) and the former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, its chairman, bringing an end to a stalemate between separate factions led by the two leaders.

The deal, which also named Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah Ismail, as the president of the coalition, means that Anwar will become the country’s prime minister should he be granted a pardon in the event that the coalition wins the upcoming general election. Anwar has been in prison since February 2015 when he was found guilty of sodomy for the second time.

In May, the Pan Islamic Asian Party (PAS) ended its ten-year alliance with Anwar’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat, the basis of the previous opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition, due to disagreements about the implementation of the Islamic criminal system, or hudud, in Malaysia.

The end of the alliance was seen as a major setback for the opposition, but the new deal between Anwar and Mahathir has gone a long way in boosting PH’s election prospects and demonstrated that the coalition is operating more effectively than its predecessor, said Helen Ting Mu Hung, a senior politics fellow at the National University of Malaysia.

“The four PH component parties appear to be able to work together more coherently on issues related to governance when compared to PR, [which included] PAS as a member,” she said, adding that the end to speculation about who would lead a PH government would protect the opposition against tried-and-tested attacks.

“The agreed top leadership lineup would also dispel one favorite strategy of ruling UMNO politicians who stoke the fear among [the] Malay electorate that should the opposition win, they would be ruled by a coalition dominated by non-Malay politicians from the Democratic Action Party (DAP), a component party of the Pakatan Harapan.”

Yet while the opposition coalition’s prospects had undoubtedly improved, James Chin, director of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute, said that “as long as PAS supports United Malays National Organisation (UNMO), PH are still not going to win the next general election”.

“PAS is the kingmaker in this general election,” he said. The party has seen its popularity rise along with a surge in conservative Islamist sentiments among voters.

Should the coalition prove Chin wrong, Anwar Ibrahim would be preceded by an as yet undecided interim prime minister until the jailed opposition figure was pardoned.

While PH is expected to rail against the corrupt nature of the incumbent regime by pointing to its involvement in the ongoing 1MDB corruption scandal, UMNO, the major party in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, will likely exploit the growing sense of nationalism in the country.

“UMNO will play up Mahathir as a race traitor and how Malays will be finished if PH wins. They will also play the card that PH is by controlled by the Chinese and infidels,” said Chin.

“The most important thing to remember is that it’s the Malay community in the rural areas who will decide the outcome so all of PH firepower will be on the rural Malay community. The urban areas are PH’s strongholds.”

Southeast Asia Globe Magazine


Related Stories

Hun Sen Creates New Military Brigade After Border Dispute
  • Thu, 17 Aug 2017 13:34

Subscribe to The Cambodia Daily today for unlimited digital access Subscription Options Daily Unlimited Posts $ 2.00 every day Monthly Unli...

The Latest: Kenya opposition will go to court over vote
  • Thu, 17 Aug 2017 12:40

The Latest: Kenya opposition says it will go to court over disputed presidential vote ABC News: International

Taking a walk on the wild side with Mondulkiri’s eco-tourism outfits
  • Thu, 17 Aug 2017 11:17

In Cambodia’s rugged east, a golden opportunity to tap into the region’s natural splendours is being threatened by copycat tour operators This art...

Why It's SO Important For Women To Pee After Having Sex
  • Thu, 17 Aug 2017 10:32

Photo: weheartit If you've never heard the advise that women should pee after having sex, then listen up! Using the restroom after sex is a very imp...

UK unemployment falls again to lowest since 1975, wage growth still lacklustre
  • Thu, 17 Aug 2017 05:37

Britain's unemployment labor market bucked tepid economic growth in the second quarter as the unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to its lowest s...

'It's still only half-time', says Brendan Rodgers
  • Thu, 17 Aug 2017 05:23

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers insisted that it was only half-time in the tie after his team's resounding 5-0 win over Astana in the first leg of thei...

Indonesian police have killed dozens of drug suspects this year, Amnesty says
  • Thu, 17 Aug 2017 05:15

Report reveals a shocking escalation in the use of deadly force by authorities against suspected drug dealers Indonesian anti-narcotic police officers...

Daily Deal - Tricky Towers, 60% Off
  • Thu, 17 Aug 2017 04:42

Today's Deal: Save 60% on Tricky Towers!*Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant noti...

Africa: Supervolcano Minerals Discovery to Boost Green Cars - Study
  • Thu, 17 Aug 2017 04:19

[Thomson Reuters Foundation] Toronto -Scientists have found an unexpected new source for lithium, a key component in battery-powered electric cars and...

The merits of going English
  • Thu, 17 Aug 2017 02:54

UNIVERSITY used to be for a privileged few. In some countries it is now almost a rite of passage. Although that is excellent news, few countries have ...

Why teens take risks: It's not a deficit in brain development
  • Thu, 17 Aug 2017 02:44

A popular theory in neuroscience proposes that slow development of the prefrontal cortex explains teenagers' seemingly impulsive and risky behavior. B...

Herd of mobile milk cafes grows
  • Thu, 17 Aug 2017 01:11

The Cambodian owner of one of the Kingdom's fastest-growing beverage chains said he is ready to take his mobile milk carts beyond the capital, and...

News Categories