Courting the Malay vote: Race-based politics still centrestage in Malaysian politics


The fight for the Malay votes has been intensified in this general election with the presence of multiple Malay-based parties entering the fray.

In August this year, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad announced the formation of Gerakan Tanah Air, a Malay-centric coalition that aims to champion the rights of the Malays.

For the 97-year-old, who is defending his Langkawi seat in the upcoming election, identity politics still remains relevant.

The Pejuang chairman told CNA: “Our main adversary is UMNO. UMNO is a Malay-based party. If you have a multiracial party it will never be able to beat UMNO.”

He added that most of the Malay voters are still thinking about race, and that politicians have to respond to the attitudes of the people accordingly.

Dr Meredith Weiss, political science professor at the University at Albany, said that the support of the Malay base is needed for any coalition seeking legitimacy to lead the next government.

Dr Weiss, who is also a visiting senior fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), noted that while PH has the edge in Peninsular Malaysia, the coalition expects to get “probably no more than 15 to 20 per cent of the Malay vote”.

“So even though it would be a front runner and will almost certainly be part of the government, it’s unlikely to have the legitimacy to lead the government on its own, even if it could come close to a simple majority,” Dr Weiss told CNA’s Asia First.

PH would likely have to form a coalition with a party with a stronger Malay base to make for a stronger governing premise, she added.

Source By https://www.channelnewsasia.com/asia/malaysia-general-election-malay-vote-race-based-politics-umno-3076591