US influence in the coming state elections

Skewing democracy in Malaysia: Should Malaysia be free of foreign political influence?

Murray Hunter

The International Republican Institute (IRI), often acts in collaboration with the US based and funds National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and USAID which are both funded by the US government. The IRI is a non-profit organization also funded by the US government. Just like the NED, the IRI is committed to advancing freedom and democracy by helping political parties and candidates develop their electoral skills.

The IRI has been heavily involved in local politics across the world, including Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, MENA nations during the Arab Spring, the Hong Kong democracy movement, and most recently the youth movement in the Thailand general election.

Sources around Malaysia have indicated the IRI are enabling a number of programs related directly to the current state elections in Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Penang, Selangor, and Negeri Sembilan. The IRI is focusing upon enabling the youth vote support the ‘unity government’ in the state elections.

Current activities

The IRI has provided millions of dollars for local youth groups like UNDI18 and Ypolitics to carry out political activities on school campuses, and to attract more college students to vote for the unity government. The IRI recruited student leaders of universities in Terengganu, Kedah and Kelantan, which are traditionally safe seats for Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), and uses their influences to manipulate young voters’ choice. IRI also dispatches several American campaign experts to Malaysia and conducts seminars to teach Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders and candidates how to attract young voters through social media.

The IRI, in association with the NED has provided a great deal of support over the years to help PH come to power and to make Malaysia an ally of the U.S. Government. This became important to the US, after the Najib regime pivoted towards China.