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Can Muda make it as a third force?

With just one parliamentary seat in its possession, questions have been raised about the party's future after leaving the government bloc.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
3 minute read
A motorcyclist rides past Muda flags in Bukit Antarabangsa, Selangor, ahead of the state election in August.
A motorcyclist rides past Muda flags in Bukit Antarabangsa, Selangor, ahead of the state election in August.

With just one out of more than 200 seats in Parliament under its belt, questions have been raised about the extent to which Muda will be able to function as an effective third force following its retraction of support for the federal government over Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's corruption case. 

Muda, a youth-based party led by Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, contested six seats at the 15th general election (GE15) last year. Syed Saddiq was the only victorious candidate although the party also holds another seat at the state level: Puteri Wangsa, in Johor, which it won at the 2022 state election. 

With parliamentary representation at just under 0.5%, analysts with whom MalaysiaNow spoke said it would be difficult for Muda to chart a path without the support of a coalition. 

Political observer Mak Khuin Weng said Muda would "live and die" with the charisma of its president, Syed Saddiq. 

"None of their candidates or members can hold the fort otherwise," he said. 

Syed Saddiq was the youth and sports minister during Pakatan Harapan's (PH) first tenure in power after the 14th general election in 2018. 

He said on Sept 10 that his party would withdraw its support for the government as a sign of protest against the move to discharge Zahid of the 47 corruption charges linked to Yayasan Akalbudi. 

"This is the start of normalising corruption," he said. "We cannot and will not tolerate this unprincipled move."

Even before its decision to quit the government bloc, Muda had tangled with some DAP leaders, with Ipoh Timur MP Howard Lee Chuan How saying the party's withdrawal from the coalition government would make it easier to focus. 

It also struck out alone at the recent elections in Selangor, Penang, Negeri Sembilan, Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah, where all 19 of its candidates lost their deposits after failing to win at least one-eighth of the votes in their contested areas. 

Muda, which formed an electoral pact with PH for GE15, previously applied to join as a component party but received no response from the coalition. 

Future for Muda

Mak said Syed Saddiq had no work experience, unlike former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, and would find it difficult to show real leadership. 

"I don't see much of a future for Muda alone, but Syed Saddiq has a future," he said. 

Analyst Awang Azman Awang Pawi said Muda would find it difficult to play the role of a third force as it only possessed one seat in Parliament. 

"Muda will also have trouble in this regard as Syed Saddiq criticises PH but not so much Perikatan Nasional (PN)," he added. 

"He should be balanced in giving his views." 

Awang Azman, of Universiti Malaya, said it would also be difficult for Muda to remain relevant after leaving the government bloc. 

He said Muda might have no choice in the long run but to work with PN. If this happened, he added, Muda would have to fall in line with PN, as it was bigger and more influential. 

"It would be tough for Muda to ask PN to follow its pace," he said. 

"Even though Muda is a multiracial party, sooner or later it will follow PN's pace instead. This is the risk of working with PN."