Step aside ‘kleptocracy’, here is what Malay voters are now concerned about

Kenneth Tee
Voters arrive at a polling centre to cast their ballots in Rantau April 13, 2019. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s kleptocracy issue is no longer significant and considered stale among Malay voters who voted for Pakatan Harapan (PH) in May 2018 during the 14th general election, a recent study by think-tank Ilham Centre found. 

Ilham Centre further suggested that certain segments of the population were beginning to have doubts over whether Najib is guilty or was falsely accused despite his ongoing 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption trial at the High Court, leading to an erosion in Malay voters’ trust of the ruling coalition.

Najib’s ongoing 1MDB trial involves 25 criminal charges — four counts of abusing his position for his own financial benefit totalling almost RM2.3 billion allegedly originating from 1MDB and the resulting 21 counts of money-laundering.

It also said that the ongoing PKR infighting and knee-jerk policy changes have also contributed to the decline in Malay confidence and support.

“PH’s reputation and performance are among the most critical factors evaluated by the voters, especially its ability to fulfil the manifesto’s promise and passion for change. However change on an insignificant basis is seen as detrimental to Islam and Malays.

“The seriousness of PH in defending Malay-Muslims is also debated on a daily basis and has become the most powerful weapon to arouse the most indignation among the populace in the name of race and religion,” it said in a statement here.

Earlier this year, PKR was embroiled in a sex video scandal targeting Economic Affairs Minister and party deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali in what was deemed as factional fight within PKR.

The conflict between PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Azmin has also risen to public attention on instances such as last year’s fractious PKR party election.

The statement added that after 16 months and several by-elections, PH now finds itself under pressure to gain the confidence of the Malays in the future.

In an unprecedented victory in GE14, PH defeated the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition which had enjoyed an uninterrupted reign over the country since Malaya’s independence in 1957.

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