The achievements of MCA and MIC in winning seven seats at the Johor state election yesterday prove that both parties need to follow the tone of the Umno “court cluster” in order to stay alive, observers say.
Political analyst Mazlan Ali said former prime minister Najib Razak had received an encouraging response from non-Malay voters while campaigning for Barisan Nasional (BN), especially the Chinese community.
“Although Najib has been charged in court and even convicted, it looks like he is still very popular,” Mazlan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia said to MalaysiaNow.
He said the outcome of the elections could be a sign that the people are tired of politics and want stability instead.
“Even though these Umno leaders have integrity problems, they might think that only BN is capable of giving them that stability.”
BN scored a comfortable victory in Johor yesterday despite only some 55% of eligible voters casting their votes.
The victory came four years after the coalition was ousted in the 14th general election, and two years after it was forced to share power with Perikatan Nasional, the coalition led by Muhyiddin Yassin.
MCA won four of the 15 seats it contested while MIC won three out of four.
For years since the “political tsunami” of 2008 which saw BN denied a two-thirds majority, MCA and MIC, two race-based component parties under BN, had struggled to match Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) popularity, especially in mixed constituencies and those with non-Malay majorities.
Mazlan believes the two parties will follow the lead of the “court cluster” as they do not care about the criminal charges hanging over its leaders.
“The important thing is their survival with the seats they currently hold, and that they can serve the non-Malay communities that they represent.”
Azmil Mohd Tayeb of Universiti Sains Malaysia said MCA and MIC would attempt to play down the role of the court cluster in their resurgence due to the stigma attached to it.
“They will focus more on development, vernacular education, jobs and other bread-and-butter issues,” he said.
‘Big Brother’ Umno again?
With BN also clinching a two-thirds majority in the Johor legislative assembly, Umno is seen as on its way back to its “Big Brother” position, sidestepping the role played by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Mazlan said this could be seen in the level of confidence shown by Umno leaders who have become increasingly bold despite being embroiled in criminal charges in court, while some like Najib have already been found guilty and sentenced to jail.
“We see leaders like Najib and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi openly calling for a general election to be held at once,” he said.
“It’s as though they are forcing Ismail to hold a general election.”
Azmi agreed that a “Big Brother” had emerged in the political arena.
“BN 2.0 is making a comeback with a similar power arrangement as before,” he said, referring to the strategies used in the state elections prior to the Johor polls.