Malaysia: A political courtship

Updated On: Sep 16, 2008

Both Barisan Nasional and the PKR-led Opposition have been busy trying to convince wavering Members of Parliament (MPs) from the other side to jump ship since the 8 March 2008 general election.

With the pressure on to capture more MPs, both the ruling and opposition parties have rejected the proposal for an Anti-Hopping law. Anwar especially is sticking to his guns that he will have enough renegade MPs from the ruling coalition to take over the parliament. He therefore is under greater pressure to instigate a massave defection of government MPs unhappy with Badawi’s administration.

Some within the ruling Party have urged all parties to resort to no-confidence motions to remove the PM rather than using extra-parliamentary measures like convincing MPs to switch political affiliations. But Anwar is under pressure to bring about the downfall of UMNO and its Barisan Nasional coalition by 16 September 2008, not an easy feat considering the fact that the party has survived and ruled Malaysia for 45 years.

Anwar needs at least 30 of Barisan's 140 MPs to switch allegiance and join his 82 MPs belonding to the People's Alliance grouping of three parties. Borneo native James Masing with Dyak blood and the six federal members of parliament from his Sarawak People's Party are being wooed by Anwar Ibrahim. The 31 MPs from Sarawak are now the focus of national politics.

So far, Dr Masing has resisted Anwar’s courtship, at least publicly. But Anwar's envoy to Sarawak, Ng Kim Ho, continues to be optimistic, even predicting substantial defections. Anwar’s envoy is hoping that Sarawak’s unhappiness and grievances with the KL government siphoning off earnings from their natural resources while not obtaining proportionate development funds from the federal government.

Barisan has fought back with 49 members of its "backbenchers club" dispatched on a agricultural study tour to Taiwan, with a reported 50,000 ringgits ($18,500) allowance. Anwar’s envoys also followed them and flew to Taipei to keep up the persuasion for defection.

The fight for political supremacy in Malaysia ironically has been transported to Sarawak and Taiwan, not its political centre of KL.


McIntyre, Ian, "Both BN and Pakatan courting MP crossovers " dated 14 September 2008 [downloaded on 14 September 2008], available athttp://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/9/14/nation/200809141904...

Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), "Anwar steps up heat for political change" dated 15 September 2008
[downloaded on 15 September 2008], available at http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/anwar-steps-up-heat-for-political-chang..

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