Malaysia GE15: Will party hoppers like Azmin Ali be punished at the ballot box?
For decades, Malaysia's has been plagued by politicians jumping from one party to another. A new law will put to a stop to this at the upcoming election, but political treachery remains fresh in the mind of voters.
KUALA LUMPUR: He was a prime mover in the infamous Sheraton Move that triggered the collapse of Malaysia's short-lived Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in 2020, but caretaker senior minister Azmin Ali has no regrets switching sides.
Mr Azmin, who was branded a “traitor” after leading a faction of lawmakers and supporters out of the coalition, will now be contesting under the Perikatan Nasional (PN) banner at Malaysia’s 15th general election.
Speaking to voters at a PN rally recently, Mr Azmin said that PH’s policies did not prioritise the people, particularly those in rural areas. “If we had stayed in Pakatan Harapan, that would have been the ultimate betrayal to the people," he added.
Come the Nov 19 general election, Mr Azmin will be defending the Gombak parliamentary seat which he has held for three terms, the last of which was under the PH ticket.
It will be a five-cornered fight, and among those standing in Mr Azmin’s way is his former mentee and current chief minister of Selangor Amirudin Shari.
Mr Amirudin is determined to reclaim the seat for PH and is confident that voters will continue to support the coalition.
He said: “Azmin and friends have to accept that the people of Malaysia are really affected by instability created and started by them, from the changing of the prime minister to declaration of the Emergency, as well as the rushed general election.”
For decades, Malaysia's political system has been plagued by politicians jumping from one party to another. While the new anti-party hopping law will prevent such activities for this election, political treachery is still fresh in the mind of voters.
CANDIDATES' ABILITIES, RATHER THAN PARTY AFFILIATIONS?
Most of these so-called traitors are seeking a fresh mandate from the people, despite the risk of being punished through the ballot box, said observers.
One voter in Gombak said: “They wouldn’t be where they are if not for us. But do they remember that?”
Another added: “With no integrity, how can we expect them to look after us if anything happens? They will be the first to bail.”
But analysts said these candidates could also benefit from incumbency advantage.
On Mr Azmin, Mr Adib Zalkapli, a director at government affairs and public policy consulting firm BowerGroupAsia, said: “Being an MP there for years, he has built a strong political base in Gombak and he also has the support of PAS (Parti Islam Se-Malaysia) members in the constituency, so he has a strong chance of retaining the seat.”
With new parties and multi-cornered fights, GE15 is one of the most polarised contests in Malaysia’s history, said observers, and voters may just decide based on candidates’ abilities, rather than their party affiliations.