The BN will have a better chance of winning if a snap general election is held, according to an analyst.
And a convincing BN victory would mean former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s full retirement from politics, says Dr Norshahril Saat, a Fellow at the Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.
Norshahril, who researches on politics in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, says the 14th general election will be a defining year for Malaysian politics.
Most analysts, he notes, expect the GE to be held in the second half of this year, although it is due only in August 2018.
The outcome of the general election , he says in a comment piece on Today Online, will make at least four political issues and situations clear:
- For the ruling Barisan Nasional, the election is a test of its ability to recover from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal;
- It will also be a test of the cooperation between Umno, the MCA, and the MIC, and give an indication of whether ethnic-based parties remain relevant;
- For the opposition, the election is a yardstick of its unity and competence. GE14 is the opposition’s best chance of beating BN, after it made huge gains in the last election by narrowly beating the ruling party in popular votes.
- It will also be a test of Dr Mahathir’s popularity and relevance in Malaysian politics. If the opposition, fails to win, it could mean the end of Dr Mahathir’s era.
Norshahril notes that even though Dr Mahathir stepped down as prime minister in 2003, he had not quit politics. He has continued to voice his opinions against the government and was instrumental in getting his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to resign in favour of Najib Razak.
Last year, Dr Mahathir formed an opposition party – the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
“Today, some opposition members regard Dr Mahathir as their best hope of toppling BN. It is also ironic that Dr Mahathir is the man tasked with saving an opposition coalition that had started out trying to overthrow him.
“Dr Mahathir’s efforts to reunite the opposition have made some inroads, but his authoritarian past continues to haunt him.”
Norshahril gives the example of Dr Mahathir’s new-found friendship with arch nemesis Lim Kit Siang of the DAP, and Anwar Ibrahim, whom he had sacked as deputy prime minister, to show how there are no permanent enemies in politics and “how quickly Malaysian politicians can jump ship and change tack, out of political expediency”.
Norshahril also points out how, Umno, also for political expediency, has throughout 2016 “increasingly played up the racial and religious cards more prominently and is edging closer to the Islamic opposition party Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS)”.
He notes that at the most recent Umno general assembly, Najib warned the Malays that if the party lost the next election, the secularist, Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) would rule Malaysia.
There was a time when Umno and PAS were going for each other’s throats but there appears to be some sort of understanding between them for the moment.
He observes: “Malaysian politicians can seem to bury the hatchet quicker than many Malaysians.”
Saying the opposition has yet to resolve several pressing issues, he adds, Malaysians will not consider the opposition as serious contenders to form the federal government unless it can agree on a shadow Cabinet.
Source : @ FMT Online