Syed Saddiq says M'sia unity govt needs 'wake up call' ahead of state elections

Six states are heading for local elections in the second half of 2023.

Tan Min-Wei | February 03, 2023, 03:16 PM

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Former Malaysian Youth and Sport Minister Syed Saddiq has warned his partners in the Malaysian unity government that it has to show that it is "serious about making changes".

Beyond race and religion

Speaking to Free Malaysia Today the President of MUDA and Member of Parliament for the Johor seat of Muar said that the fellow members of the unity government needed a "wake-up call" to understand that upcoming state elections will be determined by good governance.

State elections are due in the later half of the year in six states: Selangor, Penang, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan, Terengganu, and Kedah.

The first three are held by the governing Pakatan Harapan coalition, and the latter three are held by the opposition Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS).

These elections may be a tricky affair for the unity government.

Pakatan Harapan face tough fight in state elections

Veteran Malaysian politician Khairy Jamaluddin recently said that the PAS held states will be retained without much difficulty, and Selangor will be under considerable threat of replacing its PH government with a Perikatan Nasional one, of which PAS is a member.

Saddiq, now operating from the backbench as the sole member of youth orientated party MUDA in parliament and allied with Pakatan Harapan, urged his partners to "not forget those who actually voted us to power", and that they were firm believers in the ideals of reform and good governance.

He said that the parties that made up the unity government had promised several reforms during the campaigning for the November 2022 general election, and would lose significant support if those reforms were not delivered, or if the parties backtracked too much.

Saddiq believes it is vital that the unity government did not pander too much, and could not afford to delay the implementation of the reforms as there were only a few months left before the elections.

Race and religion a factor

Saddiq did not entirely discount the role that race and religion played in Malaysian politics, but said that "we have to give a little bit more credit to our electorate", and that it was not the strongest force.

Alluding to the changes made in the last electoral term that reduced the voting age from 21 to 18, he rubbished the idea that youths who had attended religious school had caused what he termed a "green wave".

Saddiq said that the rise of "right wing conservatism" was due to a lack of coherent alternative, when asked what could be done to counter it, he said that the only way to a united and prosperous Malaysia was by displaying good governance.


Taking the fight against corruption was a central plank of Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's two decade long effort to get into government, notable through his Reformasi (reformation) campaign.

It was this effort that allowed him to build a broad based coalition for the 2018 election that finally saw the end of Barisan Nasional rule in Malaysia, after more than 60 years.

But that coalition has now fractured, with the Malay based Bersatu party breaking away to first form it own government with BN, and then against both PH and BN as part of the Perikatan Nasional coalition with PAS.

Bersatu leader and former PM Muhyiddin Yassin has been vocal about perceived failures of the reform agenda in the PH government.

Muhyiddin's accusations

He recently posted a lengthy complaint about the government's supposed "failures" on Facebook.

Claiming nepotism and hypocrisy in Anwar appointing his daughter Nurul Izzah to a government advisory position, albeit without pay; but also for appointing BN chairman Zahid Hamidi, who is on trial for corruption, as his Deputy Prime Minister.

Zahid was chairman of BN when Muhyiddin was in government with the coalition from 2020 to 2022, although Zahid was not part of the cluster of BN MPs who were in government positions.

Zahid has been under investigation since 2018.

He is currently unable to leave the country as his application for the return of his personal passport was denied on Feb. 3, although he has been allowed to apply for a diplomatic passport, according to Malay Mail.

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Top image via Syed Saddiq/Facebook