06 April 2017
As Malaysia’s 14th general election looms, the final battle for political survival has begun. Prime Minister Najib Razak has fired the opening salvo with a turn-around on the hudud Bill. While this has caught the opposition PAS on the wrong foot, it also raises questions about the emerging power struggle that will decide who controls Putrajaya.
Prime Minister Najib Razak’s recent U-turn over his support for the contentious Shariah Bill signalled his opening gambit in Malaysia’s high drama of political survival ahead of the coming general election. Initiated by the opposition Islamist PAS, the Bill to upgrade Shariah punishments for Muslims was supposed to be supported by his ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition. Najib had said recently that it was the responsibility of Muslims to support PAS’ move in its broader push to implement hudud, or Islamic criminal law, in Kelantan.
Najib’s about-turn has caught PAS on the wrong foot. But it also shows that the Prime Minister wants, at all costs, a decisive victory in the 14th general election (GE14) that he must call by 2018, though widely expected sometime this year. His next move is to clear the decks with state-level elections in Sabah, which together with Sarawak, constitutes his two crucial “fixed deposit” vote-bank states in East Malaysia. Sabah’s elections could be called as soon as next month. BN had a year ago romped home to a stunning win in the Sarawak state elections.
… Yang Razali Kassim is Senior Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. An earlier version appeared in TODAY.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 07/04/2017