13 May 2016
Barisan Nasional’s strong showing at the 11th Sarawak state elections is not reflective of the electoral challenges that lie ahead of GE14; in fact, the Sarawak experience magnifies the weaknesses of the ruling coalition in Peninsula Malaysia.
The sweeping victory of Malaysia’s ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN), at the recent state elections in Sarawak gives scandal-ridden Prime Minister Najib Razak a much-needed political boost. Although Najib strengthened his political position last year by removing dissenters in the cabinet and in statutory boards over the 1MDB scandal, public confidence in his government remains low and he still faces internal party dissent.
Najib’s fervent opponents, such as former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed, have warned that Najib’s continuation as PM would lead to BN’s electoral downfall. Najib’s supporters are already using BN’s easy win of 72 out of 82 seats in Sarawak to bolster the call for a strong and unified BN front moving forward. However, by emphasising the Sarawak win, BN risks raising public expectations in the upcoming by-elections at Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar in Peninsula Malaysia, and magnifying its weakness. So even if the ruling coalition retains the seats, but at margins lower than expected, it could lead to a downward momentum going forward to the 14th general election to be called by 2018 (GE14).
… Saleena Saleem is an Associate Research Fellow with the Malaysia Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 17/05/2016