Defections raise Anwar’s hopes in Malaysia

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Editor

Shawwal 14, 1433 2012-09-01

Editor's Desk

by Editor (Editor's Desk, Crescent International Vol. 41, No. 7, Shawwal, 1433)

Are the political fortunes of Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy Prime Minister who fell out of favour with Dr Mahathir Mohammad, about to change? Recent developments in Malaysia have boosted his party’s hopes.

Political defections are fairly common in third world countries. Opportunistic politicians look out for offers to inflate their fortunes. Such defections are usually toward the ruling party that can offer goodies. Pakistani politicians are notorious for this and have rightly been dubbed “lotas” — the watering can used for the lowly function of washing after one relieves himself!

Occasionally defections occur in the opposite direction as well, especially when politicians feel the ruling party has become too smug or is not listening to their concerns. This is what happened in Malay-sia’s crucial swing states of Sabah and Sarawak recently. Two key parliamentarians defected from the ruling UMNO coalition to the opposition led by former deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Anwar’s Pakatan Rakyat controls five of the

13 federal states. Do recent defections indicate a trend away from the Barisan Nasional (BN), the main component in the ruling UMNO coalition? If true, the two crucial states would chip away at traditional BN support base making it possible for Pakatan Rakyat to make strong showing in the next general elections. The present parliament’s term expires in April 2013 and elections must be held by October.

Opposition leaders recognize that their hopes of winning federal power rest in Sabah and Sarawak as well as Johor and Pahang on the peninsula. One of the defecting parliamentarians from Sabah said three more lawmakers might follow suit. Are the floodgates of defection about to open for UMNO?

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