KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — Political analysts say that the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance’s (Muda) participation in the Melaka state election — whether as independents or under the Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) banner — will not be a success.
With no presence or any history in the state, Muda would very likely end up splitting votes, they added.
Muda is a new party formed by Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman after he was expelled from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) following a split led by his former mentor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed.
Muda is yet to be registered as a political party.
Earlier, Warisan president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal had said the latter’s candidates may contest under its banner in the next general election (GE15) if it wishes. Warisan is set to formalise ties with Muda as it looks to expand to the peninsula.
Universiti Sains Malaysia political science professor Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid said running under the Warisan banner may not be helpful to Muda in the long term as Warisan is more of a regional party.
“Youngsters should avoid the impression of being electoral opportunists and instead display a determination to achieve their political ideals. If they were to contest under Pakatan Harapan (PH), being offered difficult seats shouldn't be a cause for complaint,” Ahmad Fauzi told Malay Mail.
“After all, Muda is the new kid on the block. They lose nothing even if their candidates lose, but a victorious debut will be a bonus that'll raise the party's profile come GE15,” he added.
However, Senior Fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs Oh Ei Sun said that working with Warisan would enable Muda to contest any seat it liked in Melaka.
The downside is not having the ability to use any of Warisan's election machinery to help it campaign.
“They are likely to go for suburban, multiethnic seats, as the urban, predominantly Chinese seats are likely to go to DAP, while the rural, predominantly Malay seats are likely to go to Umno.
“They do not have a high chance of winning as they are a new party devoid of long-term presence on the ground,” said Oh, echoing Fauzi’s sentiments.
Muda’s participation in Melaka has also not been well received by Opposition bloc Pakatan Harapan (PH).
Johor PKR Youth objected to the possibility of Muda contesting the Melaka state election under the PH banner.
The wing’s vice-chief Faezuddin Puad said that at present the coalition only includes PKR, DAP and Parti Amanah Negara, and warned against PH fielding candidates from outside the three parties.
“For us, this is better than nominating outsiders,” he said.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia geostrategist Prof Azmi Hassan said this was not surprising.
He said if Muda took part, it would have to be allotted seats which could go to the existing parties and for a party with no influence, this would seem very unfair to the rest.
“This would be akin to free seats to a party with no proven history,” said Azmi.
“However, if PH rejects them and they insist on contesting, it wouldn’t be wise to contest under Warisan, better as an independent.
“Just to test the waters to see what’s the acceptance towards Muda. I think that’s why Muda is now very keen on contesting in Melaka, to test their influence and popularity. I however don’t think PH will take this bait,” he said.
Ahmad Fauzi agrees, adding that the other PH component parties are also looking to attract young members.
He said if Muda were to join PH, there should be a formal agreement.
“PH Youth, ie youth wings of PKR-DAP-Amanah, obviously fear that its legitimacy as a branch capable of attracting the younger generation to support PH parties will be eroded if Muda candidates are accepted to represent PH for the Melaka polls.
“Just as PH's conclusion of a MOU (memorandum of understanding) with the federal government, any decision regarding PH-Muda cooperation should be cemented formally with a view towards avoiding a damaging vote split in the elections.
“If the terms and conditions don't whittle down integral aspects of PH's larger reformist agenda, I don't see why Muda's application should be outrightly dismissed.”
If Muda were to contest on an independent ticket, the outcome is unknown. Despite not being a party that is well known, Ahmad Fauzi said Muda does have a former minister in its ranks and that has its own appeal.
“Being led by a vocal former Youth minister, Muda has its own appeal, albeit an untested one.
PH has nothing to lose if it gives one or two seats to Muda to contest, perhaps 'difficult' seats which will require Muda candidates to prove their worth.
“The risk remains that if PH rejects Muda, its members would individually contest as independent candidates, splitting the votes of the Opposition.”
Oh said the question is why PH should accept Muda. “They have next to no presence on the ground, and PH would have to yield not only seats but also campaign machinery to them in return for next to nothing.
“If they indeed come out against PH, it would only confirm their spoiler role in many voters’ eyes,” said Oh.
Nomination day for the Melaka election will be on November 8, with polling set for November 20.
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