Dream of an independent bloc gains ground despite the odds

(FMT) – Partyless politicians, activists, and prominent national figures could well shape the country’s future direction if an unlikely plan involving independent candidates in the next general election takes off.

However, political observers have doubts whether it will come to pass.

The plan for an independent bloc was cobbled together by a group of prominent people who feel the way forward would lie in like-minded independent MPs forming the majority in the Dewan Rakyat, leading to a government “of the people and for the people” rather than a party-controlled executive prone to patronage politics.

“The idea is gaining speed among certain circles, more so since there is this notion that people are sick of politicians and that results of the next elections could be favourable to independents since the ‘big three’ are likely to clash,” said one political observer in the know.

The observer, who is close to those pushing for the plan, said the group is looking at a “realistic” target of contesting 105 to 115 seats, out of the 222 in the Dewan Rakyat.

“They have spoken to quite a few people who have voiced support for the idea, because the idea looks like one that hits all the right notes, to have a government not beholden to political party warlords nor dependent on strange bedfellows to make the numbers,” the observer said.

Political analyst Azmi Hassan said that the idea of non-partisan MPs forming the government sounded like an ideal and was unrealistic, at this time.

“I think such a push is made more out of desperation of certain people who cannot fit into other parties now or are having trouble registering their own party. The reality is that Malaysians by and large will still vote for parties rather than independent candidates,” he said.

Azmi, a former Universiti Teknologi Malaysia academic, said few people could stand on an independent ticket and win.“These are people who are unshakable in their own constituencies, who are bigger than parties. You are talking about the likes of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Najib Razak, these type of leaders.”

Among the stumbling blocks for independent candidates would be a lack of machinery, the perception that they will not be able to do much for their constituencies, and the question of a national leader, which still remains vague.

“So I think it will be difficult for anyone to pull this off. I think a lot of talk about this is just talk, people might say they are supportive of such ideas because it looks progressive, but whether they can resist standing under a party ticket is another matter altogether,” he said.