With Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) being virtually ignored, and even given the “runaround” by Pakatan Harapan (PH), there is little choice for the movement to come out as a “third force” in the coming state elections.
This move could be devastating for PH, particularly in Selangor where MUDA has some support.
Even without MUDA splitting the vote, PKR has a horrendous challenge ahead to hold onto existing seats.
MUDA, by creating three-way contests, will give PN candidates a great advantage.
If MUDA stands in seats held by Umno, there is little chance any will be able to retain their seats.
Any move by MUDA to contest as a “third force” could cost PH-BN the Selangor government.
MUDA may also affect the results in Penang as well, by assisting PN win Malay-majority seats on the mainland.
The fault for this predicament lies with PH, which has not invited MUDA to coalition meetings.
MUDA applied to join PH before the last general election, but never had any formal reply.
For MUDA, if the party sits out these state elections, where 40% of Malaysians are eligible to vote, the party may cease to exist
MUDA is under immense pressure to contest the state elections, or lose their relevance.
Quickly deteriorating relationship
MUDA deputy president Amira Aisya Abdul Aziz has been taking prime minister Anwar Ibrahim to task for his comments to a female student asking him about the falling ringgit.
Anwar’s reply to the student appeared condescending at the least, where Amira is asking Anwar to make an apology to the student.
This has triggered a social media debate with split views on the issue.
The PH-MUDA relationship is deteriorating quickly. Many within MUDA appear to have been misled by Selangor menteri besar Amirudin Shari’s comment that seat allocation in Selangor with MUDA is still continuing.
The PH leadership still have the March 2022 Johor state election in their memories. MUDA was given seven seats by PH to contest and could only win one of them.
Out of the six seats MUDA was allocated in the last general election, only Syed Saddiq was able to hold onto his seat with a slender 1,345-vote majority over the PAS candidate Abdullah Husin.
UNDI 18 miscalculation
Syed Saddiq was one of the major proponents of the “UNDI 18” movement which brought the voting age down from 21 to 18.
Most pundits believed this would be greatly advantageous to PH parties. However, the majority of new voters who have been schooled in Malaysia’s Islamized education system voted for Perikatan Nasional parties because of their non-secular approach to government.
Where MUDA contested, they were not able to pick up much more than 20% of the youth vote. Much of this support for MUDA came from the non-Malay cohort.
MUDA’s skilled use of social media, where Syed Saddiq has 1.4 million followers on Twitter, appeared to give presence to Syed Saddiq personally, which didn’t rub off on MUDA.
What MUDA doesn’t have are the resources to canvass voters directly within their own electorate.
MUDA didn’t develop into a mass movement
There was early talk about MUDA developing into a mass movement of concerned youths wanting to make their presence felt in the political arena.
This didn’t happen. Policy and issue wise, MUDA didn’t have anything to offer. MUDA didn’t have a firm policy platform that the youth could aspire to. MUDA failed to deliver what many had hoped for – the youth vote. It went the other way.
Consequently, there is nothing from MUDA that can be synergized with PH. No add-on value.
Anwar, with his Rakan Muda program recently launched at UKM is a direct affront to the space MUDA was trying to occupy. PH leaders have made their decision long ago, and have moved on.
The coming state elections will be very costly to PH with MUDA acting as a spoiler.
However, the state elections will further marginalize MUDA, which may just be totally irrelevant come the next general election.
(Murray Hunter has been involved in Asia-Pacific business for the last 40 years as an entrepreneur, consultant, academic and researcher. He was an associate professor at Universiti Malaysia Perlis.)