MPs' shift to unity government: A political double-edged sword

05 Nov 2023 01:03pm
Small pictures from the left: Iskandar Dzulkarnain, Suhaili - FILE PIX
Small pictures from the left: Iskandar Dzulkarnain, Suhaili - FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM – Political experts have described the recent shift of MPs to the unity government as a ‘political double-edged sword’.

Dr Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs believed that while this bolsters the unity government's parliamentary majority, it may also encourage political instability through allegiance shifts.

"This pattern could both strengthen the government's hold or lead to its downfall, potentially stirring political turmoil," he told Sinar Daily when contacted.

Oh highlighted that Bersatu, already grappling with a diminished political role and internal power struggles, could be further weakened by additional defections.

“If more MP defections decimate it, it could become increasingly diminished in Malaysian politics.

“Bersatu needs a post-Muhyiddin leadership capable of navigating a viable political trajectory,” he said.

Yesterday, Bersatu MP Datuk Iskandar Dzulkarnain Abdul Khalid who announced support for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s government, was suspended by his party for four years.

Bersatu secretary-general Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said the party’s disciplinary board met yesterday to go over a report on the breaches in party discipline and constitution committed by Iskandar, who is also head of Kuala Kangsar Bersatu.

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Hamzah said the documentation of evidence, seriousness of the Kuala Kangsar MP's offence, and implication of his actions warranted his suspension.

The decision comes three weeks after Iskandar announced on Oct 12 that he would support Anwar’s unity government after considering the urgent need to address the rising cost of living in his constituency.

However, he said he remained loyal to his party and would not leave or betray Bersatu under any circumstances.

Reacting to the latest development, Universiti Teknologi Mara political analyst Dr Abdul Aziz Azizam stressed the necessity of understanding the repercussions of MPs switching sides, which he views as a dereliction of the Opposition's duty to provide alternatives and maintain government accountability.

He advocates for disciplinary measures against Iskandar, as defections betray the electorate's trust and the democratic process.

“If the public supports Iskandar's recent actions, it implies they might have favored Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition in the previous elections,” he noted.

Contrarily, Universiti Putra Malaysia political analyst Datuk Prof Dr Jayum Anak Jawan argues that the loss of an individual like Dzulkarnain won't significantly impact Bersatu.

He advised that for future success, especially in the 16th general election (GE16), Bersatu must devise new strategies to resonate with Malaysia's diverse electorate and extend their reach beyond Peninsular Malaysia to include Sabah and Sarawak.

“Bersatu is a major Peninsular Malay party, led by prominent figures in Malay politics.

"However, to move beyond and be recognised as the potential ruling party in the future, Bersatu, along with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (Bersatu president) and his team, needs a new strategy to harness Malaysia's diversity.

“They cannot rely solely on winning more votes in Peninsular Malaysia, as they have already reached a certain threshold,” Jayum added.

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