Malaysia's Leadership Crisis

A collection of analysis pieces on the latest in Malaysia politics

Two writers with formidable credentials in Malaysian politics share their observations and thoughts on recent political events in the country: former Malaysian Ambassador to Canada and other countries Dennis Ignatius who examines whether the new Sabri government can survive longterm, and former senior executive at the South China Morning Post and regional media consultant Cyril Pereira who takes a critical look at the Opposition’s failure to seize the opportunity for reform.

Can Malaysia's New Government Survive?

It might just, barring mishaps

By: Dennis Ignatius

When it comes to who gets to be Malaysia’s prime minister, those words in Article 43(2) of the Constitution – someone who is likely to command the support of the majority of members in the House – must necessarily carry more weight than what the majority of Malaysians might wish for.

That’s the Constitution and we have to live with it. It’s futile, dangerous even, to expect the King to act in any other way. Ismail Sabri Yaakob has the job. The question now is whether Sabri’s government will prove more stable than the previous one. It might just be, barring any major missteps.

First, it is unlikely that any of the 114 members of parliament who indicated their support for him will change their position. They would be seen as duplicitous and disrespectful of the King...

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Malaysia's Witless Opposition Flubs Reform Offer

Anwar’s ambition dooms a chance at transformation

By: Cyril Pereira

Malaysia’s opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition lost a rare chance for radical political overhaul when it turned down an offer by the now-ousted Muhyiddin Yassin, who pivoted desperately at the last minute to the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party to prop him up. His back to the wall, he was ready to deal.

The DAP enjoys a strong Chinese urban support base from mass defections of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), the United Malays National Organization’s coalition partner since independence in 1957. MCA leaders leveraged crony contracts, became tycoons and lost credibility with their neglected Chinese electorate.

UMNO and the Islamic party PAS have forever slandered the DAP as an existential threat to Malays and Islam. Muhyiddin once famously declared “I am Malay first, and Malaysian second.” Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the new PM, has repeatedly urged Malays to boycott Chinese shops. Muhyiddin turning to the DAP was a stark sink-or-swim choice after UMNO withdrew its support, dooming his Perikatan Nasional coalition. Gutter politics is all about expediency and survival, where Muhyiddin is a seasoned gamer...

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