Ignore red lines and see PH voters move away, says analyst

Azmil Tayeb says disillusioned PH supporters may turn to Muda at GE16 after ‘red lines’ were crossed with Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s conditional discharge.

(FMT) – An analyst has warned that Pakatan Harapan supporters may sit out the 16th general elections (GE16) or switch their support to Muda if the coalition continues to allow its unity government partners to exceed “red lines” demarcated for them.

Azmil Tayeb of Universiti Sains Malaysia said voters are likely to become disillusioned by PH’s failure to commit to promised reforms.

The conditional discharge given on Monday to Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in respect of his corruption cases is yet another instance of PH’s failure to honour pledges made to the electorate in the lead up to GE15 last November, he said.

As a result, Azmil believes PH supporters may turn to Muda at GE16 as they know the party’s stand on corruption.

“It (would be a) protest vote and a vote of conscience,” he told FMT.

“Usually in the first past the post system, voters tend to vote strategically as they would vote for the party that has the (best) chance of winning.

“But I think because they (PH supporters) don’t see any difference between (the major) parties, they would vote for a third party. Muda, in this case, would benefit from disillusioned supporters,” Azmil added.

Azmil was commenting on Muda’s announcement that it was reconsidering its position in the unity government after “the biggest red line (was) crossed” by Zahid being granted a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) in his Yayasan Akalbudi case.

Meanwhile, Syaza Shukri of the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) said the government was obliged to ensure that politicians within the unity coalition did not evade prosecution.

She said there was no need for political parties and organisations to draw “red lines” as they “appear to be inauthentic”.

“If parties or organisations disagree with this outcome, just call it out,” she told FMT, adding that while Zahid’s DNAA would not affect the government’s stability, it could jeopardise the unity coalition’s chances of securing a second term.

Another analyst, Tunku Mohar Mokthar of IIUM said that the failure of both PH and Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to honour these “red lines” will give rise to a trust deficit in the administration.

Muda has also announced the launch of its #DakwaZahid campaign, which is pushing for Zahid to be prosecuted. It is also calling for the attorney-general (AG) to explain the decision to request for the DNAA, and for a separation of the AG’s and public prosecutor’s roles.

“If there is no response from the government on our three demands, we might have to consider (leaving the government bloc),” said Muda secretary-general Amir Hadi during a press conference.

Tunku Mohar said that it would be damaging if other parties in the unity government were to follow suit.

Syaza, however, believes a pullout by Muda would not heavily impact the government.

“Muda, after all, has called out other actions by the government. So this (move would) appear to be part and parcel of Muda’s so-called Politik Baru,” she added.

Azmil said that by exiting the unity government, Muda will have more freedom to speak out on high-profile cases involving unity government politicians and set itself apart from other parties in PH.

“(Muda can) show it is a party of conscience and conviction and willing to quit (its) privileged position in the government in order to keep its convictions intact,” he said.

‘Take up Muda’s demand for reforms’ 

Both Azmil and Syaza called on the unity government to entertain Muda’s demands, with the former suggesting that Anwar start with the “lowest hanging fruit” by separating the roles of AG and public prosecutor.

Meanwhile, Syaza said that despite having only one MP, Muda’s demands should be entertained by the government as the party shares the expectations of PH supporters.

“In other words, (fulfilling) those demands is the right thing for them to do now to regain the trust (of PH supporters), with or without Muda’s threats,” she added.