MALAYSIA – POLITICS: Could the country finally face a turn?

We reproduce the Asia Sentinel analysis here in French. With all thanks to Michel Prevot.

Although Malaysia’s general election left the country with a hung parliament, voters signaled trends that will shape the country’s political landscape, including a blow to the scandal-plagued United Malaysian National Organization, which could end control of power after 65 years of political struggle. dominance.

After three decades of fighting to become prime minister – sometimes from prison on dubious charges – Anwar Ibrahim, who claimed victory, and Muhyiddin Yasin, who once served as prime minister, said their respective coalitions had enough support for 222 seats in Parliament to form a government. , although they did not reveal which parties they formed an alliance with. Negotiations on the formation of the government continue.

However, it is clear that civil servants, the military, Malaysian professionals and young Malaysian voters have abandoned UMNO and sided with the Perikatan Nasional Malay nationalist coalition led by 68-year-old Muhyiddin Yassi. the political capital of the country, Putra Jaya.

Politicians who dominated the government for decades, including 97-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, a two-time prime minister, and his son Mukhriz, as well as Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who served in parliament for 46 years and was a minister, have been shown the door. Finance. Nurul Izzah Anwar, daughter of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, lost Permatang Puah, which the family had held for many years. Khairy Jamaluddin, once considered the new face of UMNO, also lost.

None of the three coalitions fighting for power has the number of voters needed to form a simple majority with some form of political interdependence to form a government. This means that Sarawak’s leader, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), which already rules the East Malaysian state, will become the clear kingmaker, winning 22 of the 31 parliamentary seats in 2018, winning 22 of the 19 seats. GPS has previously held government formation meetings with both Anwar and Anthony Loke, as well as Muhyiddin and Abdul Hadi.

GPS has two main options, positive and negative for each. The rural Islamist Islamic Se-Malaysia Party, now a major component of Perikatan Nasional, is not welcome because of its Islamic policies, and the Democratic Action Party, which sides with PH, is not welcome. From what is considered Chinese chauvinism.

However, a surprise coalition could be formed before the anti-Secession laws come into force to prevent opportunistic politicians from switching parties once in parliament.

Different regions of the country voted differently. Politicians who did not perform well or were seen as traitors to their party were severely punished, including former Selangor chief minister Azmin Ali and Zuraidah Kamaruddin, who played a prominent role in the 2021 Sheraton Putsch that attempted to establish an ethnic group. Maszlee Malik, who performed very poorly as the Malay nationalist government and education minister from the back door.

With a turnout of 75%, there were no surprises before the results were announced about the winning coalition. Barisan Nasional is betting on low turnout in the middle of Malaysia’s monsoon season, when high turnout should favor opposition Pakatan Harapan. Instead, the moderate turnout benefited neither group, and the youth vote did not change the game the way the opposition had hoped, although it did sink some of the country’s oldest politicians.

In fact, the overall vote share of the opposition Pakatan Harapan declined. The ethnically Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP), which previously held 47 seats, fell to 40 and its vote share fell to 18% from 19.94 in 2018. The hardest hit is Anwar Ibrahim’s Keadilan Rakyat Party (PKR), which lost 11 seats. Now at 31, PKR’s vote share has dropped from 18.92 to 14 percent. A third member, Amana, won eight seats and lost three seats in this election, while UPKO gained two seats and one seat.

The Pakatan Harapan coalition is the most important group facing the new parliament, offering 75-year-old Anwar his last chance to form a government not because of a perfect election result but because of the division of votes within Malaysia. central, former territory of Barisan Nasional (BN) led by interim Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Perikatan Nasional (PN) led by former Prime Minister Muhyiddin. Barisan dominated this part of the electoral map after independence. PAS gained 18 seats in 2018 and was able to take 13 seats from UMNO, the dominant member of Bersatu BN, in 2018 under the leadership of Mahathir Mohamed.

This time, UMNO’s Malay household lead fell from 54 seats to 20 in the peninsula, with an additional seven seats gained in Sabah. UMNO’s vote has fallen to just 12% from 20.9% in 2018 as the party not only continues to deal with the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal and the disgrace of the now-imprisoned Najib Razak, but is embroiled in a leadership tussle. Najib’s lieutenant, party president Abdul Zahid Hamidi and current prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The real winner of the evening, as expected the previous week, is Perikatan Nasional (PN). Muhyiddin Yassin’s Bersatu Party – once the backbench party formed by Mahathir to lead the reformist Pakatan Harapan in the 2018 election – fell from 13 seats to 24, from 5.95 percent to 11 percent of the vote. PAS, led by Abdul Hadi Awang, won 31 seats in the new parliament, a total of 49 seats. PAS dropped from 16.82% of the vote to 22%, making it the main party in the PN coalition and nominated Abdul Hadi for the post of prime minister.

The political landscape of “Sabah” is now clearly divided into 3 groups. UMNO Sabah has 7 seats, GRS Sabah 6 seats, Warisan 3 seats, DAP (2), PKR (1) and Bersatu (1) hold the rest. It seems that “Sabah” will not get rid of the influence of the political parties of the peninsula, unlike Sarawak.

The state of Perlis witnessed a PN election tsunami that swept away the state’s Barisan government, with all parliamentarians in the state losing their seats, including Chief Minister Azlan Man. This after the loss of UMNO MP Shahidan Kasim. Pahang and Perak, where state elections are also held, hang in the balance with a likely BN-PN coalition government.

UMNO President Mr. Zahid made a bet to force the people to hold an election during the monsoon. His mismanagement has led to numerous calls for his resignation. If Zahid resigns, he will stand trial on charges of looting a charity fund, as his political protection has disappeared. Although Zahid managed to retain the Bagan Datuk seat by less than 400 votes, he has now been personally exposed to the full rigors of the law.

Ethnic Malays seem to have embraced the Malay Islamic-nationalist political approach promoted by PAS and Abdul Hadi. Pakatan made many mistakes in its candidate selection. However, this would not be considered in the final seat count.

Malaysia’s electoral map has clearly changed from the voter sentiment on display during the Johor state elections earlier this year. Absent was Najib, who led the UMNO crusade during the Johor and Melaka campaigns, pouring in huge sums of money and using his organizational skills. In contrast, caretaker prime minister Ismail Sabri remained in his constituency to protect his Bera seat. UMNO party chairman Zahid did the same. Given the almost unbeatable seat of Sungai Buloh, Khairy Jamaluddin emerged as the unofficial leader of UMNO. This situation contrasts with that of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who during the election campaign toured the country in a helicopter, demonstrating the old “reform” fervor that made him famous.

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