19 September 2015
Tens of thousands heeded the call to support Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak against demands by electoral reforms group Bersih for him to step down, but Wednesday’s “red shirts” rally ended up focusing on affirming Malay rights rather than Najib’s leadership.
Indeed, the rally was a clear indicator of how strong the PM’s grip on his ruling party UMNO (United Malays National Organization) is. But it gained him little favor with critics and non- participants, what with some groups turning unruly and scuffling with riot police. It also failed to address the allegations against him.
Najib has faced challenges on numerous fronts since having to fend off charges — from even within his own party — of financial misappropriation in debt-laden state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), whose advisory board he chairs.
… But Oh Ei Sun, from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said that such rallies, Bersih’s included, rarely swayed voters but instead “reinforce voters’ existing preferences”.
He also noted that control of UMNO is often conditional as there are “purse strings attached”, with “political wannabes trying to curry favor”.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 16/11/2015