Ramasamy: If Malays can abandon the unity gov’t, non-Malays can do likewise”

PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim might face an unenviable task in getting the much-needed Malay support.

(Focus Malaysia) – For all intents and purposes – starting with the 15th General Election (GE15) last November – Malay support has drifted to Perikatan Nasional (PN).

The recent state polls merely confirmed that Malay support stays with PN. Can Anwar who is head of the Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional (PH-BN) alliance and unity government reverse the trend?

Continuing with the present status quo points to a grim situation comes the next elections given PH-BN would be devoid of Malay support.

The only support might emanate from the Chinese in DAP as even Indians have begun their drift away from PH. If this is the case, there is no way that Anwar can even think of getting the Malay support. Even the fixed deposit non-Malay support might wither away.


Despite such pessimistic scenario, there are several options that Anwar can think of in resuscitating Malay support.

Firstly, since incarcerated former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak enjoys support among the Malays, Anwar could seek a royal pardon for his early release.

This is the position of UMNO as well. However, such a move might be fraught with difficulties. Royal pardon for Najib might alienate non-Malay support in DAP or even those in PKR.

Moreover, as royal pardon takes time, it cannot be seen as political move to boost the political sagging political fortunes of UMNO.

In fact, the effort to pardon Najib might undermine the legitimacy of the unity government. Moreover, Najib might be popular figure in UMNO but I am not sure if he continues to enjoy traction among the Malays in general.

Secondly, beefing up Malay support could also mean that PKR – although being a multi-racial party – might have to turn towards the right to appease the Malays.

Since UMNO itself is not in the position to do it, PKR might have to play a complementary role. Of course, such move might alienate the non-Malays in the party because moving to the right might be at their expense.

Thirdly, the PH-BN alliance might not be the strength of the unity government but a political liability. This is because some sections of the electorate – both Malays and non-Malays – have not accepted the “unholy” alliance between DAP and UMNO.

The top leaders might have come together for reasons of political expediency but I am not sure of the rank and file. Years of animosity and bitterness between DAP and UMNO cannot be resolved overnight just for the sake of elections or for the unity government.

Fourthly, if the above are not sufficient, then Anwar needs to think of out of the box imaginatively and creatively.

Essentially, rather than going for quick fix to complicated political situation, Anwar might want to engage in some form of political and societal engineering to re-configure and re-align the present membership in PH as well as BN.

By undertaking this bold exercise, Anwar can address the points of weakness and strengths of the component parties with PH-BN alliance.

The idea is not just to address the deficiency of Malay support but also to address the non-Malay support from being not straight jacketed. If Malays can abandon the unity government, then there is no guarantee that non-Malays would not do the same. – Aug 28, 2023

Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the former DAP state assemblyman for Perai. He is also the former deputy chief minister II of Penang.