Vacating Muar worth the gamble for Muda

Kenneth Cheng Chee Kin

The writer believes Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s recent withdrawal of support for the unity government is worthy of applause. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, September 17, 2023.

CONVICTION in politics matters. No Malaysian would want cynical politics where principles are easily twisted and politicians don’t mean what they say.  

When a politician acts on his beliefs instead of playing safe, Malaysians should not call it selfish.  

Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s recent withdrawal of support for the unity government is worthy of applause.  

Regardless of your views on Zahid’s DNAA, belittling Syed Saddiq’s move – especially coming from Pakatan Harapan (PH) quarters – will only serve to reinforce the notion that our politics has no place for those willing to walk the talk.  

Syed Saddiq will face several political risks for doing what he did. 

There is a high chance that the Muar MP will now be denied allocations and be unfairly treated like the rest of the opposition.  

This financial burden would be more acute given that Muda is still a young and small party and does not enjoy the financial standing of established parties like Bersatu or PAS, nor can it sustain financing through elected representatives when it has only one representative at both state and federal levels.  

Syed Saddiq may have overplayed his hand when he said his withdrawal would deny the unity government a two-thirds majority.  

The two-thirds majority was initially bandied around by the prime minister to signal a stable government and its parliamentary majority looks to be unassailable.  

However, that soon loses its appeal when it does not deter the likes of Abdul Hadi Awang from agitating for a fall of government.  

The unity government has been timid and restrained, and may even be willing to forgo reform promises.  

Clearly, a two-thirds majority counts for very little when it has yet to win the hearts of most Malays.  

Syed Saddiq’s withdrawal also led to the question of who could claim ownership of the Muar seat, won by Muda by way of an electoral pact with PH.  

Muda could not have won without PH giving the young party a free run.  

Some may say Syed Saddiq is merely adhering to principles PH adopted.  

However, Syed Saddiq and Muda should have seen this coming and voiced their opposition to PH’s cooperation with Umno. 

There was no opposition from Muda when Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was appointed deputy prime minister in a betrayal of PH principles consented to by all parties. 

This is what Muda was most criticised for and it will stick so long as PH maintains that both Syed Saddiq and Amira Aisya are MP and Adun respectively only because of PH’s generosity.  

Therefore, at the very least, Muda vacating the seats of Muar and Iskandar Puteri could show that Muda is willing to make a clean break from PH.  

By contesting alone in Muar, Muda can confidently claim the moral high ground and along with PSM, stake their claims as the only parties that are truly progressive and principled.  

Muda could take advantage of Zahid’s DNAA to make the Muar by-election a referendum on the credibility of the current government. 

Moreover, the political reward of successfully defending the seat would be too good to ignore. 

Should Muda win in Muar, it would signal that the party was here to stay and could be the third force in Malaysian politics. – September 17, 2023.  

* Kenneth Cheng has always been interested in the interplay between human rights and government but more importantly he is a father of two cats, Tangyuan and Toufu. When he is not attending to his feline matters, he is most likely reading books about politics and human rights or playing video games. He is a firm believer in the dictum “power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will”.

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