Experts say Muda-PSM tie-up for state polls is a progressive move, but unlikely to be a vote spoiler | Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 — The partnership between the youthful Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) and the more established Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) as a “third force” in six state elections next month shows progress in the country’s political growth.

Political scientist James Chin said Malay Mail that unlike the mainstream parties, PSM and Muda are not seen to be driven by racial or religious politics.

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“The mainstream parties are very good at playing that game,” he said, referring to Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Perikatan Nasional (PN) respectively.

The two coalitions, with Barisan Nasional (BN) now allied with PH and calling themselves a “unity government” as they share joint control of the federal government – with the ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah – make up the main names in Malaysian politics.

Because of that, Chin who is a professor of Asian studies at the University of Tasmania, indicated that the PSM-Muda alliance is unlikely to gain public traction in the August 12 vote.

Instead, he said the two parties that were once seen as PH’s allies could affect the coalition to a certain degree in some seats even if it is not fatal.

“So they are not a threat, but the problem is that in the side seats, they can make a difference and they can do more damage to the PH than to the PN.”

He added that PH-BN should face PSM-Muda sooner rather than later as it would be foolish to allow this “third force” to split the votes for the unity government.

“If you look at what is happening in the PN, it is very clear that they are collecting everything that is against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

“So, the logical thing to do for PH is to collect all those against PN, Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang, PAS and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia,” Chin said.

PAS, Bersatu, and Gerakan together form component parties in the PN.

Syaza Shukri, assistant professor of political science at the International Islamic University Malaysia, said the PSM-Muda partnership is a strategic one that could see both parties benefiting from each other’s strengths.

He said that in Malaysia, it is common to see parties that excel on different issues working together because finding minimal overlaps is good enough for elections.

However, like Chin, Syaza thinks that PSM-Muda is still unlikely to be a threat as they need to work more to gain stronger support.

Muda and PSM logos are seen at a press conference at Bilik Gerakan Muda in Petaling Jaya, July 15, 2023. Analysts believe that the PSM-Muda alliance is unlikely to gain public traction in the August 12 vote. — Photo by Firdaus Latif

“I don’t think the whole of the country will support them. I see them getting support in more urban areas.

“But it’s OK to be this kind of regional party for a short time,” he said Malay Mail.

Political scientist Wong Chin Huat also said that PSM-Muda is unlikely to split the votes for PH in next month’s state elections.

He cited the 2018 general election results for Sungai Siput to support his statement.

“From the Sungai Siput contest in GE14, where the PSM incumbent lost even his deposit when he fought against PH, BN and PAS, despite being a good MP in Parliament and in his constituency, we know that the PH voters are very strategic.

“Once they recognize a party as a spoiler, they will avoid that party even if they have good candidates,” he said.

But Wong, who is a political scientist with the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia and the Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development, also said that Muda could be a threat to the Umno-PH coalition if it plays it right.

He said Umno and PH supporters might vote Muda more easily to express their dissatisfaction with the unity government if they could not bear to vote for PN.

“If they can galvanize apathetic or even cynical non-voters or steal Malay votes from PN or BN more than PH or BN candidates can, PH’s base will shift, ” he said.

At the same time, Wong said the PSM-Muda alliance must be careful to avoid being labeled a “spoiler” when it comes to PH voters.

“Although ‘third force’ sounds sexy to some civil society activists, it often just means ‘spoiler’ to the PH base,” he said. Malay Mail.

Wong said another issue for PSM and Muda was the first-past-the-post election system adopted in Malaysia, which he said would always lead to stunted development after a decade or two unless the two parties will join a larger coalition.

Muda and PSM declared their electoral partnership on July 15, saying they shared a common political agenda and direction and wanted to focus on public-oriented issues as well as the environment.

Muda president Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman and PSM chairman Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj said the two parties agreed not to fight over seats, and would reject racial politics.

Polling day for state elections in Selangor, Penang, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu is on August 12.

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