6:02pm 21/01/2022
A more diverse political landscape in the making

Sin Chew Daily

The most heated political topics of late are none other than when GE15 will be held and the much speculated dissolution of Johor state assembly after CNY.

The Malaysian political landscape is bound for another major reshuffling since the Sheraton Move, and the emergence of new multiracial parties could be the ones which would reshape the country’s political landscape.

Among them Parti Warisan Sabah which is spreading its wings to the Peninsula, as well as the just registered Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA). The former is led by veteran Sabah leader Shafie Apdal, while the latter has been founded by former sports minister during PH’s time Syed Saddiq and other like-minded young leaders. These two parties have expressed their willingness to work together as they ready themselves to become a third political force in the country.

As a matter of fact, Malaysia already has some multiracial parties, including Anwar Ibrahim’s PKR, and time-honored setups like DAP and Gerakan, all claiming to be multiracial. That said, these parties’ leadership line-ups and the directions of their political struggles are still very much race-specific in nature.

As for whether Warisan, MUDA, Parti Bangsa Malaysia and other newly set up multiracial parties will become a viable option for Malaysian voters aside from BN, PN and PH, it remains to be seen.

Shafie Apdal has officially taken his Warisan over here to West Malaysia, and has vowed to become a reckoned force in pan-Malaysian politics.

We can’t deny that Shafie’s remarks in recent media interviews do offer a lot for Malaysians to look forward to, but given the intense  rivalry in West Malaysian politics, it wouldn’t be easy to make a significant breakthrough, and new selling points are very much required.

Having been a federal cabinet minister and Sabah CM before, the fact that Shafie has opted not to forge an alliance with Mahathir and his prediction of PH’s decline in credibility after the Sheraton Move, proves his exceptional foresight.

In a similar manner, MUDA’s founder and president Syed Saddiq has also visualized an urgent need for political transformation, and has thus proposed a major overhaul, reset and transformation for the Malaysian politics.

With his multiracial party MUDA, he strives to propel such a new political agenda with the hope this country will be headed in the right direction.

Many are of the view that the vicious competition between Umno and Bersatu will not promise the rakyat anything, as Malay supremacy continues to be the strong undercurrent in their rivalry.

As for PH, the alliance has failed to prove its worth in a number of issues, while PAS’ Islamization advocacy poses veritable menace to the country’s non-Muslim communities.

On the surface, there isn’t one party or leader that is perceived as capable of changing the country, making the emerging political forces something Malaysians can look forward to.

That said, the PH alliance, also put up by multiracial political entities, eventually lost its grip of power, sparking concerns a more diverse political landscape may not actually bring hope to this country.

In media interviews and various public events, Shafie has tried to convince Malaysians to believe in their differences. Meanwhile, MUDA has also strived to break the antiquated “one man, one party” political model and call for a complete overhaul of existing political policies in creating stronger policies and a more solid foundation. Similar narratives have also been proposed by other new multiracial parties.

In other words, these parties must be able to incite Malaysians’ renewed enthusiasm in promising new political options. We have to admit that up till this point we are still waiting and watching.

Even if the voting age is now reduced to 18, a group which political parties will fight tooth and nail to woo, MUDA and these new outfits may not have an upper hand at all. And with more new parties joining the fray, the strength of opposition parties will invariably be diluted further, in the end benefiting Umno.

Not all young voters are anti-establishment. In fact, they are more politically indifferent. It will therefore take MUDA a whole lot of effort to galvanize these young people into voting and supporting them.

Of course, the emergence of new political forces will provide politicians frustrated with their existing parties a brand new platform to continue with their political struggles, and this is poised to impact existing parties like DAP and Keadilan. On a positive note, this may inspire them to re-engineer themselves to pit against new and old parties in cultivating a healthy political culture for the nation.

Unfortunately, most of the frontline players remain old faces, and even Shafie may not have sufficient clout to make an impact. Moreover, it is still premature now to talk about letting an East Malaysian leader reconstruct this country’s political climate.

While Warisan and MUDA offer a new beam of hope we can indeed look forward to, ultimately it will be the voters’ decision that matters.


Syed Saddiq
Shafie Apdal


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