Malaysia’s MUDA party takes stand on corruption, quits ruling coalition

BenarNews staff
Malaysia’s MUDA party takes stand on corruption, quits ruling coalition Afiqah Zulkifli, a candidate from the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) for the Bukit Kepong state assembly seat, wears a face mask with her party's acronym while on the campaign trail in the constituency in Johor, Malaysia, March 2, 2022.
Hasnoor Hussain/Reuters

A Malaysian youth-oriented party announced Sunday that it was quitting Anwar Ibrahim’s ruling coalition in protest after a raft of corruption-related charges were dropped against Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi last week, reports said. 

The Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA), which has only one seat in Parliament, issued a statement saying it would join the opposition as a “third force.”  

“Who would have thought they would be this co-called reform government that would end up dropping corruption charges for the sake of power? I will not and will never allow Malaysia to normalize corruption,” Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, the youthful chief of MUDA, said in a video posted on Facebook.

On Sept. 4, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dropped 47 graft charges against Zahid, the head of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) party, with which Anwar agreed to join forces to form a coalition government after last year’s general election

The ruling angered grassroots activists and young Malaysians who had taken part, during the years ahead of the 2018 general election, in mass street protests against government corruption.

Anwar has rejected accusations that his government interfered with the courts to secure the clearance of charges against his deputy. That came days before by-elections for two parliamentary seats in Johor state, which Pakatan won on Saturday, the Straits Times newspaper reported.

“As a result of the decision, MUDA believes the legal institutions of the country have been tainted and it is as if the government is normalizing the culture of corruption,” the party said in a statement Sunday, according to Reuters.

Malaysian politician Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman speaks during an interview with Reuters in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, Sept. 3, 2020. [Lim Huey Teng/Reuters]

Despite MUDA’s exit, Anwar’s governing alliance retains its two-thirds parliamentary majority but the party’s departure could still affect the coalition’s ability to pass constitutional amendments and other key reforms, Reuters reported.

The news service quoted MUDA as saying that it would still vote with the government if the coalition needed a two-thirds majority vote to implement institutional reforms. 

In state assembly elections in six states last month, Perikatan Nasional, the conservative opposition bloc, posted significant gains in three states it controls and chewed into the support base for the other states where it is in the minority. UMNO performed dismally in the Aug. 12 polls, winning only 19 of the 108 assembly seats it contested overall.   

During the 2022 electoral race, Anwar had campaigned against UMNO on an anti-corruption platform. But amid a post-election impasse, he brokered a power-sharing deal with UMNO because his Pakatan Harapan alliance did not have enough seats to form a parliamentary majority.

Until 2018, UMNO, the anchor party in the Barisan Nasional coalition, had ruled Malaysia since independence from Britain in 1957. It crashed out in national polls in 2018 because of a massive corruption scandal that tied then-Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration to the looting of billions of U.S. dollars from 1MDB, a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

Najib is now serving a 12-year sentence on related charges after being sent to prison in August 2022, when he lost his final appeal.


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