The third bloc: Muda has the spirit but no strength

01 Jul 2023 10:18am
Syed Saddiq (two from left) announcing Muda will go solo in the upcoming state elections held in the six states.
Syed Saddiq (two from left) announcing Muda will go solo in the upcoming state elections held in the six states.

SHAH ALAM - As time is ticking closer to the next state election, the two main characters, Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Perikatan Nasional (PN), are in the spotlight.

However, in the excitement of debating which party will dominate the state election in Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Negeri Sembilan, Penang and Selangor, the third character appeared, which is the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda).

Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who is also Muar Member of Parliament, decided that Muda would go solo and compete solely relied on its own strength in the upcoming state election.

Previously, Muda had requested to cooperate with PH as in the 15th General Election (GE15) last year, but their request was not entertained and was ultimately rejected by the political coalition led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

This 'suicide mission' of Muda is seen as not just another option to voters but also have the potential to be 'thorn in the flesh' for PH since the party had formed the Unity Government together with the coalition.

However, it was said that Muda's participation in the six state elections could later act as a third bloc that would balance the competition between the two main characters, PH-BN and PN, and could give voters additional options.

But is Muda the right candidate for the role? Based on their performance in the last GE15, the party was not able to give its best performance, let alone to compete with PH and PN which comprised of big names in the country's political field.

The history of the country's politics proved that the attempt of a legendary political figure such as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to form a third political power through Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) in GE15 had failed, even though he was one of the most influential Malay leaders in Malaysia.

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Universiti Malaya political analyst Dr Mohammad Tawfik Yaakub said Muda's presence in the upcoming six state elections was not as the third bloc but just 'to add flavors' and would not bring a huge impact that would lead to surprises.

"As a party that is still considered new, Muda should not be arrogant, they have to instead be aware of the fact that in the context of the country's politics, no party can move alone without any cooperation or political consensus.

"Compared to PH and PN, which are known to have strong grassroots and party wings, Muda is still far behind and it is not impossible that they will lose all candidates' deposit if they go solo in the upcoming state polls," he told Sinar Premium on Friday.

Tawfik said Muda's commitment to bring a new political culture and reject the old political culture would not be the 'X factor' that would attract the voters in their favour.

"Muda's target to reject the old political culture may take a long period of time to finally be accepted due to the country's different political approach.

"Our country's politics does not consider old age as an obstacle, but instead it is based on interest-based politics that safeguard the people's interest," he said.

He said if any other small parties wished to join Muda in forming a third bloc, they first need to ensure that the party's strength does not solely depend on the name of its founder, Syed Saddiq.

"Without the strength of grassroots and other political coalition, participation of small parties will not bring much difference and advantage to Muda, not only in the state election but also its future survival in politics," he said.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Institute of Ethnic Studies deputy director Professor Dr Kartini Aboo Talib@Khalid also admitted that Muda's performance in the six-state election was not strong enough to become a third bloc capable to challenge PH or PN.

"Muda does not possess the necessary strength to become a third bloc, in addition to the party having no political consensus.

"Enthusiasm alone is not enough, on the contrary, Muda needs strong branches to live and stand upright as a powerful party, because when in political consensus with large parties, the small parties will be protected," he said.

He explained that politics was not cheap and Muda needed money and sponsors.

"If Muda's orientation is only Syed Saddiq and that Syed Saddiq is Muda, then the party has a short life span because the party is not famous and there are doubts from friends or no potential in Muda's next in line leaders itself," he said.