How strong is Malaysia’s opposition?

How relevant will the opposition parties be in the next general election?

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Much has been said about why Malaysia’s opposition parties fell short of the numbers required to elect their candidate for prime minister.

Some MPs now suggest that all the opposition parties should band together for the next general election.

The opposition front in Malaysia is losing steam – at least some parts of it. If Pakatan Harapan thinks it still has a chance at the next general election, it needs to pull itself together now. Leaders should be seen to be working for the common good instead of hobnobbing with Umno, even casually.   

If the opposition parties are fighting for a better country, the rule of law and inclusiveness for all, then the opposition leader should have known better than to engage with Umno president Zahid Hamidi, who is on trial for corruption and money laundering. Anwar Ibrahim should avoid people with a list of ‘poor judgements’, to put it mildly. That might have cost the opposition some seats. 

But that is all water under the bridge now. What matters now is how the opposition parties can get their act together.

Maybe this is the time for some soul-searching to see where it all went wrong. There is no blame game here or finger pointing. Everybody should take a step back and discern – individually and for their parties – what they should or should not have done recently.

Maybe it is time for the winds of change to sweep through for a clean-up. This is what we would call decluttering.

Maybe it is the right time for all the opposition parties to look at the realities of the Malaysian political system and what changes are needed for the better. They must raise the harder questions of who should stay, who should go and which obsolete ideas they should get rid of. They must bring in newer faces (think of the youth wings!). There is a need to be honest. 

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Search for the reasons – or maybe some already know? – why the opposition failed to get the numbers. Was it a leadership problem? Was there infighting and jostling for positions – a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth? Was there distrust because some among the opposition were too ready to take the olive branch offered by the previous prime minister?

The opposition front is not a spent force. There are some promising parties out there that may be partners, including Muda, Pejuang, Warisan, Upko and the parties in Sarawak. They all want to see a better Malaysia.

But in wanting to invite like-minded parties to join forces, be forward thinking and prepared to listen to everyone. Do not force others to follow your views because each party will have its own thoughts and vested interests. Open-mindedness is required.  Will this be possible?

Another question is, how relevant are these parties to the youth? Young Malaysians are coming into their own; they know what they want from their government. The new prime minister has said he will listen to young Malaysians.

Time is of the essence. The next general election will be held either next year or in 2023. The various political parties have little time to figure out their thrust for the election. Ideas from the past may no longer be suitable for the years ahead.

Will opposition parties that are standing alone be willing to merge with other parties to move forward and look at how they can improve people’s lives? Will greed and power still be the driving force in 2023?

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People are tired of the same rhetoric, repeatedly dished out over the last half a century. This applies to all political parties because most people are not as gullible as before.

Many now have computers, laptops and mobile phones to download anything and everything. They can access media outlets from all over the world. They will have to decide from all this information what is good and what is bad, and discern the truth from falsehoods. Whatever is hidden will come out – for the truth will eventually prevail.

Changes have to be made; the signs are all out there. Just as many people are feeling pandemic fatigue, they are also tired of the same old politics.  

So, ask yourselves this question: How relevant will you or your party be in the next general election?

Jem, an Aliran reader, still cares deeply about Sabah, despite having lived in the peninsula for some time

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WH Cheng
26 Aug 2021 10.39am

Count Pejuang out as they are conservatives. Give priorities to MUDA, Parti Aspirasi Sains, Warisan, UPKO, PBDS (Baru) and Parti Bumi Kenyalang. These are the parties that has the aspirations for change. Unless PSB changes its leaders, the party is merely a mirror of the old SUPP.