07 March 2017
Malaysia’s newest opposition party, Bersatu, will struggle to win seats in the country’s next general election if it cannot overcome its leaders’ political baggage and some key problems with its public image. Bersatu’s potential to be a spoiler, or even a longer-term alternative, to UMNO cannot be ruled out.
Speculation is rife that Malaysia’s 14th general election which must be held by August 2018, may be called this year. The general election come after a protracted political scandal over state wealth fund 1MDB, with damaging financial mismanagement and corruption allegations levelled at Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Several former leaders from the ruling political party, United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), have left and regrouped into a new Malay nationalist opposition, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu). Led by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad as chairman and former deputy premier Muhyiddin Yassin as president, Bersatu will need to sell itself to a jaded public if it is to pass as a credible contender for UMNO’s Malay voter base.
… Saleena Saleem is an Associate Research Fellow at Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. A version of this commentary was jointly published earlier in the Policy Forum and New Mandala, The Australian National University.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 08/03/2017