The government should be worried about a “tsunami of discontent” instead of a “green wave” in the upcoming state polls, said former Umno leader Khairy Jamaluddin.
He said while there is a growing religiosity among Malays, rising support for Perikatan Nasional was not just due to growing conservatism.
“What is happening in Malaysia today is less the rise of an extremist ‘green wave’ than the expression of genuine discontent in the Malay community that goes beyond the 3R (race, religion, royalty) issues,” he said in an op-ed published in Fulcrum by Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.
Khairy said since Anwar Ibrahim took power, there has been a clear lack of economic direction, continued depreciation of the ringgit and further erosion of the people’s purchasing power due to a prolonged cost-of-living “crisis”.
“This palpable Malay anger is amplified by the perceived hypocrisy of the present administration which talks about eradicating corruption and upholding good governance but accommodates a tainted Umno leadership.
Although Khairy said that support for PN is not just rooted in 3R issues, he acknowledged that the coalition itself has been doubling down on rhetoric focusing on race, religion and royalty during its parliamentary debates and ceramah.
He added that Anwar’s attempts to address such issues head-on, including to move a bill to strengthen Syariah courts to avoid being “outflanked” by Islamists, may not be paying off.
Khairy cited a public opinion survey by Endeavour-MGV in April that found the premier’s approval rating among Malays falling to 54 percent while less than half of Malay respondents felt Anwar’s leadership had improved.
Further, Khairy claimed that DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang’s view that the state polls would be an “existential choice” for Malaysians may end up driving more Malays to support PN.
In addition, the former health minister said the Anwar-led government also faces internal challenges, namely Umno.
Khairy said Anwar had “much to prove” after taking on a “liability” that is Umno as well as its president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who is on trial for corruption.
Khairy – who was sacked from Umno in January during a purge against Zahid’s rivals – said the belief that Umno can help Pakatan Harapan gain Malay support may not be true.
“This now looks less likely, as Umno continues to struggle to explain to its members why it is part of a government that includes its long-time ideological bogeyman DAP,” he said.
Khairy added that PN has also been exploiting unease among Malay voters towards DAP’s presence in the government.
Meanwhile, quoting a source, The Star reported that the former health minister would remain partyless for the moment but is expected to campaign for Perikatan Nasional in the upcoming state elections.
According to the source, Khairy had communicated his position to the PN chairperson and Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin when the pair met yesterday.
“Muhyiddin has accepted (Khairy’s stand),” the source said, adding his role would be similar to former Umno veteran Noh Omar who has been active in PN’s preparations for the state elections.
Muhyiddin had reportedly offered him a supreme council position in his bid to entice the son-in-law of former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to join Bersatu.
Meanwhile, Bersatu deputy president Ahmad Faizal Azumu told Malaysiakini that the meeting between Muhyiddin and Khairy ended positively.
“I wasn’t there so I can’t say much, but I know it was a good meeting,” he said.
Following the meeting, speculation was rife that Khairy had been offered the position of Bersatu deputy president and would be fielded as a candidate in the Kota Damansara state seat in Selangor.
In dismissing this, Faizal said: “I believe there wasn’t any discussion on that”.
Separately, Khairy lauded Anwar on Instagram for clarifying that MACC’s probe on judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali found no criminal elements.
“Prime minister is 100 percent correct in clarifying this. He must continue to resist an assault on the judiciary perpetrated by Umno,” he said.
Nazlan was the trial judge who convicted former Umno president Najib Abdul Razak on the RM42 million SRC International corruption case.