KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — The Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) will make as little difference to the Opposition as it did to the national unity government, according to analysts.
Commenting on Muda president Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman’s decision to withdraw his party’s support for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s administration, Universiti Putra Malaysia political science professor Datuk Jayum Jawan told Malay Mail the decision was not significant both in the immediate and longer terms.
“Muda is not a well-conceived party to begin with. It started with the intention to gather youth as a new force in politics.
“But Muda must also understand that there is a Muda in all political parties: youth as in young men and young women in PKR, Umno, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), Parti Amanah Malaysia (Amanah) and PAS.
“So, what does Muda have that all these youth sections don’t that will draw youth to Muda?” he said.
Jayum also dismissed theories that Muda’s decision would benefit Perikatan Nasional (PN), the coalition which currently leads the Opposition in Parliament.
The party was unlikely to add to PN’s strength even if it were to join it formally, he said.
Syaza Shukri, assistant professor of political science at International Islamic University Malaysia, expressed similar sentiments, adding that the unity government has a strong majority in Parliament.
Although the unity government would not be able to push through major reforms requiring constitutional amendments unless it could secure bipartisan support, she said Syed Saddiq — Muda’s one and only federal lawmaker — has pledged to support those that were progressive.
Syed Saddiq’s move would instead have much greater implications on his party’s longevity, she said when pointing out that its few electoral successes have come through PH’s concession and support.
“They very much depended on PH’s support for the 15th general election (GE15) and the state election in Johor last year.
“Without PH, it would be difficult for them. But if they are willing to work the ground, they could truly be the ‘third force’,” she commented.
This would require consistent service to constituents, both in the seats the party holds and plans to contest, she said.
Syaza further said that Muda could try and amplify its relevance by being a vocal critic of the administration.
“In reality, though, Muda needs to figure out a longer term strategy,” she said.
National Professors Council member Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod cautioned, however, against dismissing Muda’s withdrawal from the unity government, saying that any move that could impact the unity government’s two-thirds majority is important.
Muda being seated in the opposition bloc would lend further support to PN as well, he said.
“Syed Saddiq is probably doing it as a matter of principle. If it is the case, the unity government is losing an important ally.
“If it amounts to losing a potential two-third majority support, it will be a great challenge to the unity government,” he said.
But the move could also be a political manoeuvre by twisting Pakatan Harapan’s “arm” for Muda to force its way into the latter, he added.
Muda had applied to join the PH coalition prior to GE15, but was not accepted as a formal member, leading to the party going solo in the elections held in six states last month where it failed to gain any seats.
Nik Ahmad added that the move will lead to a healthier democracy in Malaysia as Muda has shown that it is capable of making decisions that may result in nationwide political changes.
“The move by Muda is significant because a party who disagrees with the government’s decisions has walked its talk and withdrawn its support — a thing that coalition members in the political bloc so far has not done for any principled reason,” he said.
Earlier today, a report from national news agency Bernama quoted Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul as saying that Syed Saddiq, who is also the Muar MP, will be seated in the opposition bloc of the Dewan Rakyat beginning tomorrow.
On September 10, Syed Saddiq announced that Muda has decided to be a “third force” in Malaysia’s politics by becoming an opposition party, to protest against the government over the conditional discharge granted to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in his corruption trial.