Malaysia will hold elections in six states on 12 August 2023. While state elections generally address state and local issues, these elections are widely touted as a barometer of public sentiment towards the federal “unity government”, led by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition with the support of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition and others. A catastrophic outcome for them, it is suggested, could open up opportunities for the opposition coalition, Perikatan Nasional (PN), to garner allies in parliament and replace the PH-led government. While an imminent change of federal government is not expected for now, a poor outing could severely cripple the Anwar Administration.
Prior to the recent dissolution of the six state assemblies, three states (Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Penang) were ruled by PH parties, while Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah were led by Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) of PN. While PH enjoys the support of non-Malay minorities, the majority of Malay voters had voted for other parties in the last general election, in particular, PAS and Bersatu of the PN coalition. Whether the state governments change hands, and the support of various segments of the population (by race, age, across the urban-rural divide etc) for each coalition would be parsed for clues on Malaysia’s political, social and economic trajectory for the next few years.
This webinar will discuss:
- Drivers of voter sentiment towards the major parties and coalitions
- Public views on racial politics, religion, good governance, and reform
- The implications of the results for each coalition and the unity government
About the Speakers
Ibrahim “Ben” Suffian is Programs Director at Merdeka Center, an opinion research firm which he co-founded. Ben is a prominent analyst and commentator on Malaysian politics, widely respected for his work at the Center. Through its public opinion surveys and analyses on politics and public policy, the Center seeks to improve the quality of public debate, widen public participation in the political process, and contribute to the formation of a more coherent civil society.
Shahril Hamdan is Visiting Fellow at the Malaysia Programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. He was a Malaysian politician who served as Economic Director at the Prime Minister’s Office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and was formerly the Information Chief of UMNO. He has also worked in management consulting, venture capital and the energy sector. He has recently founded a risk advisory firm to serve clients navigating Malaysia’s political economy.