After two tumultuous years, the political scene in 2022 promises even more twists and turns as the 15th General Election looms.
Experts believe that the new year will herald more party internal struggles that will give rise to political crises, fresh alliances and even the possibility of a new “super coalition”.
National Council of Professors senior fellow Dr Jeniri Amir said GE15 would be preceded by more political crises and reports of party infighting, and the possibility of a party in the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the government and the opposition looking for a way out of the agreement. Among the terms of the MoU, inked in September last year, was a guarantee that the government will not dissolve Parliament before July 31, 2022.
Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Professor Dr Azizuddin Sani said GE15 was likely to happen in 2022, with political parties expected to make sweeping promising of resolving price hikes as well as introducing new incentives to help the people rebuild their lives.
“Also, don’t be surprised if there is a formation of a ‘super coalition’. We have heard talk about the possibility of Barisan Nasional (BN) cooperating with Pakatan Harapan (PH) and as we all know, nothing is impossible in politics,” he said.
Geostrategist Associate Professor Dr Azmi Hassan expressed a similar view but instead of PH joining BN, he believed that Muafakat Nasional would be reactivated, thus reducing multicornered fights between Malay-dominated parties in GE15.
“I think Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) as well as Pas will join Umno and create a new alliance because the reality is, all three parties need each other to form a strong federal government.”
Professor Dr Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia shared the same sentiment, and said the current political culture showed that political ideology was no longer the main factor in forming cooperations.
He said political survival and benefits that could be gained from cooperation would instead be the deciding factors.
“Everyone is preparing for GE15 and if someone decides to break the MoU, we may go to the polls between July and November 2022. One thing is for sure, we will see more infighting in each party. We’ve already witnessed Umno’s this year and I doubt this will end anytime soon,” he said.
National Council of Professors chairman Professor Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, on the other hand, believes that GE15 could happen in or just before July 2023 — when the 14th parliamentary term ends — provided that Umno and Bersatu prioritised the people instead of political mileage.
“If GE15 doesn’t happen after July 2022, we have to watch out for the Umno election (in November). That’s where we will get the next signal on when GE15 will happen.”
Although observers had predicted that Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi would be replaced in the next party polls, Universiti Malaya’s Professor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said there would not be much changes in terms of leadership in Umno, PKR, DAP and Pas.
“Not unless grassroots members keep pressuring their leaders to immediately hold party polls. For Bersatu, it seems that there are already moves in place to replace Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as president. But, do those involved have enough strength to do so?”
GE15 is set to see 5.8 million new voters after the minimum voting age was lowered from 21 to 18. This would translate to a 36.7 per cent increase in the number of registered voters in the country. Automatic voter registration would also add more new electorates.
With this in mind, Azizuddin said the number of fence-sitters would also increase in GE15 and this, he said, would give an added advantage to the newly registered Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda).
“I expect 80 to 90 per cent of them (5.8 million new voters) are fence-sitters. They don’t belong to any political parties yet. It will not be easy to attract the young voters and people can say anything about (Muda pro-tem president) Syed Saddiq (Syed Abdul Rahman), but he is popular among the youth.
“Our youngsters don’t favour political entities. They favour personalities. So, if Muda plays its cards right, I believe it can attract at least half of the youth in this country. But to get into the big boys’ league, Muda must be able to take over rural seats.”
Two other things not to be missed in 2022, said Sivamurugan, were the possibility of a cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri and how the court cases of the derisively dubbed “court cluster” of Umno leaders would pan out.
“It will be especially interesting to see (former premier) Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s fate in the Federal Court. Will he get stronger in politics or will he go behind bars? His will be the most intriguing case to watch in 2022.”
Source : NST