The Big Three
Malaysia gained its independence from the United Kingdom on 31st of October 1957 with the then Prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Dato Sri Tan Cheng Lock and V. T. Sambanthan together with the help of racial unity between the Malays, Chinese and Indians. The parties of the respective three leaders are United Malays National Organization (UMNO), Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Malaysian Indian Congress. The three parties were originally in a coalition called The Alliance Party. The coalition was officially replaced by Barisan Nasional in 1973.
The three main parties now under the Barisan Nasional banner have ruled Malaysia since Malaysia’s independence, until 2018, where for the first time in Malaysia’s history, the opposition parties were voted into government. But what happened? Prior to the 2018 election, there was a series of corruption in the government. The most notable corruption case was the 1MDB scandal. A scandal where the former prime minister, Najib Razak was accused of (allegedly) transferring RM 2.67 billion from 1MDB, a government-run strategic development company, into his personal bank account, with Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) being the mastermind.
It may seem like a dream come true for many Malaysians where the opposition bloc was voted into government after promising results in the 12th general election (2008) and 13th general election (2013), with Pakatan Rakyat (now Pakatan Harapan), winning the popular vote but losing out on parliamentary seats. Since winning the 2018 general election, politics in Malaysia seemed to be in a rocky situation where we saw three different governments in a space of 4 years.
- Pakatan Harapan Coalition : 2018 – 2020
- Perikatan Nasional Coalition: 2020 – 2021
- Barisan Nasional Coalition: 2021 – Present
With a series of corruption, cronyism and nepotism in Malaysian politics, calls for young politicians and fresh faces in politics have been growing louder and louder. There is a lack of youth representation in Malaysian politics. Many believe that a strong presence of youth participation in politics and parliament will form an effective government. But how important is it for the participation of young politicians in politics? Will they help us for the better? One thing that we know is that many feel that the old-timers politician should step aside to make way to new faces due to the stagnance of policy of Malaysian politics where issues like Religion, Vernacular schools, Racial policy are still being debated in parliament instead of discussing on the ways to improve Malaysia as a whole.
Why are youths not involved in politics
Why is it that not many people are keen to join politics? Is it because they are not interested or is it because it is dangerous? Well, to be fair, compared to other Southeast Asia countries like Myanmar or Thailand, the situation of being the opposition in Malaysia is (relatively) safe. That does not mean that Malaysia has a good record when it comes to politics. Everytime when a politician is gaining popularity or someone who has tea of confidential information of government officials who are involved in corruption – The person ends up in a sodomy scandal, corruption case, or death. Fortunate enough, this does not happen often like corruption filled countries.
This is why the need for fresh faces in politics is much needed than ever. During the Perikatan Nasional administration, then-minister of health, Adham Baba suggested that drinking air suam (warm water) can prevent the spread of Covid-19 as the virus will be flushed down to the stomach with the digestive acids killing the virus. Besides that, Adham Baba even mentions ‘Spanish flu’ as ‘Spanish fly’ during a university talk at Universiti Putra Malaysia. This has left many questioning his ability and capability.
After the fall of the Perikatan Nasional government less than 18 months in power, when then-Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin resigned after failing to get the majority support in parliament. After the cabinet reshuffle, Adham Baba’s position was filled in by Khairy Jamaluddin as the minister of health. Even though the cabinet reshuffle was criticized for being identical to the PN administration, credits should be given for the work that Khairy Jamaluddin has done as the health minister compared to Adham Baba. He was praised for being proactive by making a series of announcements regarding the spread of Covid-19 and his national vaccination programme. This situation can be used as a good example on why the country needs to be managed by someone who is young with the capability of running the country. This is the problem that we get when we have cronyism and nepotism in play.
However, not all hope is lost. There have been promising signs on the young politicians scene in Malaysia. The 2021 Melaka state election saw 19% of the 112 candidates, aged 35 and below contesting during the election. The youngest candidate was 21 years old Farzana Hayani Mohd Nasir who was representing under the PH- PKR banner. On top of that, MUDA (Political party) was recently officially registered as a political party after many months of trying to register as a party when it was rejected by the Registrar of Societies (ROS) on 6 January 2021.To much of the delight of many youths who felt that the current existing major parties in government are not doing well enough. What is unique about MUDA is that the party formed with the foundation of multiracial and youth centric, where they encouraged everyone no matter the race and gender and age to join the party. MUDA will be the first ever party in Malaysia that is youth-centric. Countries like Thailand and France have their very own youth-centric parties as well like Future Forward in Thailand and La République En Marche! in France.
“Jangan takut, kalau mereka nak ugut biarlah ugut. Kita lawan!”
– Syed Saddiq
It is time for a change!
At this time of political instability of the government in power and the opposition. It is time to bring in fresh faces that can potentially make drastic changes and hopefully lead Malaysia to a better future. The Malaysian government is constantly run by the same people where everything is controlled and monopolized by the people in power. It is time to have a reform in the political system where we vote people based on meritocracy instead of cronyism and nepotism. Will MUDA be able to make an impact in Malaysian politics? Only time will tell.