What would it take for Muda to finally catch Pakatan's eye? Young party needs to prove itself in polls, say analysts

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — The Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) will need to prove that it can be an asset to Pakatan Harapan (PH) and win over support from youths for the coalition to finally accept it, several analysts polled by Malay Mail said.

After Muda complained of again being left out from the Unity Government Secretariat meeting on Sunday, Universiti Utara Malaysia's (UUM) Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said Muda's poor showing in the 15th general election (GE15) when it won only one Parliamentary seat is not helping its cause.

“This does not show that it is strong and worthy enough to be part of PH or any coalition,” the associate professor told Malay Mail.

He said currently the youth vote was divided, and Muda does not have its own campaigners to win them over. Instead, he said Muda had merely relied on urban votes and the backing of PH's grassroots campaigners during GE15.

Meanwhile, University of Malaya's sociopolitical analyst Awang Azman Awang Pawi said the situation shows that Muda is much more dependent on PH rather than the other way round.

“There is also the worry that Muda might ask for more seats in the state elections later if it is officially part of PH,” he said, adding that Muda ultimately needs to prove that it will be able to win more seats.

“Another factor for the reluctance for PH to officially accept them is that they are considered as the main competitors for the youth wings of DAP, PKR and Amanah,” he said.

Senior Fellow of Singapore Institute of International Affairs Oh Ei Sun agreed that one reason behind PH's hesitation to work with Muda may be because PKR sees the young party as a competitor.

"As PKR is supposed to drive both PH and the unity government now, there is thus understandable marginalisation of Muda,” Oh said.

Muda president Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman had previously said the party was targeting to field candidates in 15 Parliamentary seats in GE15, but after a protracted negotiation with PH — to avoid contesting against each other — only contested six seats. It only win one: Syed Saddiq's incumbent Muar.

Similarly, Oh also said that Muda's weak performance in GE15 denied it a strong bargaining position to be included as part of PH.

“Muda really risks becoming increasingly irrelevant if it can’t find its political niche fast,” Oh said.

The director of Asia Institute, University of Tasmania, James Chin said PH will have to give Muda seats during state elections if the coalition were to accept the party into its fold.

"They were given seats in GE15 but they only delivered one seat, it would be very difficult for them to accept Muda after that,” he said.

Muda currently has one state seat in Johor: deputy president Amira Aisya Abdul Aziz's Puteri Wangsa.

Chin said PH should still accept Muda as it is not good for the coalition’s image to leave the youth party dangling for so long, and suggested that PH may be able to make way for Muda if the latter does not make any demands during seat negotiations for the upcoming state polls.

Additionally, Awang Azman said Muda has yet shown that the support it has on social media could translate into votes.

“However, if the social media support continues, Muda still has a chance of becoming a leading political power for the youths in the future,” he said.

Awang Azman also suggested that Muda’s supporters may be more likely to support PH now than Perikatan Nasional (PN), especially with PH in power now.

Contrasting with Awang Azman, Oh believed that a large part of youth votes have migrated away from PH or Muda to PN instead, which has previously admitted it reaped rewards from flooding social media channels such as TikTok.

"Those who are more religiously minded go for PAS, whereas those more socioeconomically concerned go for Bersatu,” he said.

Chin said that while it may be true that young Malay voters have switched from Muda to PN, there are no set patterns for young voters.

“They can easily switch back to PH or BN, this group is never consistent,” he said.