Could The Charges Against Muhyiddin Politically Backfire



“Bossku Effect” Could Lift PN’s Hope On Its Very Own “Abah Wave” Murray Hunter
Anwar Ibrahim is now prime minister. After GE15, he was guided into a ‘unity government’, which he put together with a hotchpotch of political parties. Adversaries became friends and learnt how to work with each other.
We observed the first 100 days and examined the budget looking for hints of what this government stands for. The answers haven’t come. Most see just a steady continuation of government, similar to governments before.
However, six states are facing their own elections in a few months, and will the arrest and charging of Muhyiddin play any role?
Polarized and divisive nation
The Muhyiddin arrest and charging has occurred in front of a much bigger backdrop than the issue of corruption. There is the issue of a politically divided nation, where the arrest and charging of Muhyiddin can be seen as one side persecuting the other side.
What we are seeing is a totally divided nation. At one side is the Malay-Islam-centric Perikatan Nasional (PN), which practices division and racist scorn. At the other side, is a centralist unity government, that respect Malay cultural roots, the multiculturalism of the nation, wrapped in Islam as the religion of the nation.
To supplement the two dominant political forces of the peninsula are the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), the dominant political force in Sarawak, and Sabah based parties blending into a unity government.
There are two distinct visions for Malaysia. If PN had been the government, there is no doubt there would have been Malay-centric government, pushing towards a quasi-Islamic state. This is an acceptable vision of Malaysia to many within the Malay-heartlands (not all). This is in contrast to Anwar’s unity government, which is seeking to cast some form of middle road, something not fully Islamic, but not quite secular.
The challenge to the unity government and the middle road
The coming six state elections will involve more than 40 percent of the nation’s voters. It’s a good litmus test of what peninsula voters want for Malaysia. However, the reality is the PN, principally made up of Bersatu and PAS, will ride over UMNO and PKR across the six states. If voting follows the trends of GE15, UMNO will be almost wiped out, while PKR will lose a large number of seats.
There is no way Anwar’s unity parties will make any inroads in Kelantan and Terengganu. Anwar’s coalition will also go backwards in Kedah, leaving a much stronger PN state government there.
There will be a big battle in Negri Sembilan, with the odds running in PN’s favour. Selangor will be a very intense battle, where PN believe they can take power, and deep down the Pakatan Harapan leadership know they have a real fight on their hands.
Even the state of Penang will face massive losses along the mainland seats, which will leave a PH government in power with a greatly reduced majority.
There is indeed the realization that the unity government’s pride and sense of legitimacy will be damaged at the coming state elections. How deep the wound is, will depend upon how much the unity parties are decimated. Winning Penang, Selangor, and Negri Sembilan would be considered a good victory. The loss of Negri Sembilan would dint the pride of the unity parties. The loss of Selangor would dig deep into the Anwar administration’s sense of legitimacy.
UMNO and PKR are vulnerable and have most to lose. This is why the arrest and charging of Muhyiddin cant escape being political.
The gameplan we can see
Anwar has said on many occasions his government has zero-tolerance for corruption. That maybe the case, but there are side benefits to this policy, either by accident or design. Investigations, arrests, and charges have so far taken out the Bersatu kingpins. Rumours in the media suggest that some leaders in PAS may soon be called in for investigations over election fraud. We see the MACC working hard on these cases.
The PN camp is crying foul and claiming selective prosecution and political persecution.
The intuitive thinking is that when Muhyiddin faces the crowds during the coming election campaign, he will suffer a major credibility deficit, due to the criminal charges hanging over him. If more are charged before the elections, then the effect would be greater, and discredit the whole PN coalition.
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