Muda a real challenge for Umno-BN, says analyst

Muda’s formal political debut will not only pose a fresh challenge to Umno and BN, but also to other parties including its former allies in Pakatan Harapan, according to analysts.

Universiti Utara Malaysia Politics and International Relations senior lecturer Prof

Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said Muda’s appeal, among others, lies with the youths and first-time voters.

“Muda appears as part of this Undi 18 phenomena that we see as being able to destabilise all parties, through the new voters.

“The reality is that youths these days are fed up, they have lost trust in the current political parties. Not only from BN or PN but also Harapan,” Azizuddin told Malaysiakini.

He said this when asked for comments on Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin’s recent statement that Muda, with a recent High Court decision in favour of its registration as a political party, is a serious contender for youth votes.

Khairy, a former Umno Youth chief, said his views were based on the experience of youths rejecting Umno-BN during the 2018 general election due to current issues at the time.

Former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin

Echoing Khairy’s view, Azizuddin said the recent massive flooding that hit seven states will have an impact on youth support in the next general elections.

“The flood will be a big issue in the next general election because what happened has shown there are weaknesses on the part of the government.

“The government today is seen as ineffective in resolving the flood situation and this failure was attributed to disorder in government, resulting in instructions from the top not being communicated to push for urgent actions,” he said.

“They (youths) may be more inclined to support parties like Muda that are seen as being more active on the ground to resolve community problems. It might not be comprehensive but there are efforts made that appeal to the people,” he said.

‘Bigger clash with Harapan’

Compared with Umno-BN, Azizuddin said Muda is likely to be in stiffer competition with Harapan in terms of attracting support.

He said this was because Muda shares a closer support base with Harapan, targeting urban youths, while Umno is eyeing more seniors in rural areas.

“Harapan had pulled these urban youths to support them. So Muda is trying more to attract voters on Harapan’s radar, not Umno.

“Umno may also target youths but these youths are mostly in more rural or semi-urban areas,” he said, adding it remains difficult for Umno to win in urban seats with its current approach.

Meanwhile, analyst Prof Sivamurugan Pandian from Universiti Sains Malaysia said Muda has from the get-go showcased its strategy of being close with the party’s target supporters.

“The message being delivered with leaders who can serve as an example, along with the ability to act swiftly, is a plus point that can pose a challenge for other parties’ attempts at attracting younger support,” he said.

Sivamurugan noted that while all parties claim to carry out a rejuvenation process, many are still tied to old practices.

“Not just Umno but almost all parties appear listless. Are difficulties in securing positions leaving the youths to feel sidelined?” he said.

Meanwhile, Azizuddin said Muda’s current challenge lies in efforts to be more holistic in order to also attract youth votes in rural and semi-urban areas.

“Muda’s approach and political stance are well-liked in the cities. So they will clash with Harapan that also adopts the same approach.

“So they must be more holistic. Which means they must also go out of town to gain attention towards them. Only then will they be seen as a challenger to Umno and PAS,” he said.

‘The biggest challenge’

Muda was founded by Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, a former youth and sports minister for 22-months under the Harapan administration.

Muda’s formation came four months after Syed Saddiq’s exit from Bersatu, at a time when other leaders faced with the same action had followed former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad to form Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang).

Muda founder Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman

When contacted, Muda secretary-general Amira Aisya shared the party’s vision of electoral victory and breathing new life into Parliament.

However, she said, the biggest challenge lies with convincing the people to view them as a viable alternative.

“Be it Umno, PAS or MCA, all parties will pose a challenge for Muda. But I have faith that the politics of serving and principles championed by Muda will showcase our ability to lead and offer the best for the people.

“Muda’s main focus is not to tarnish our rivals, but to feature leadership, sincere effort and hard work,” she said.

Amira added her belief was boosted by the fact that Muda’s appearance had led other parties, particularly Umno, to reconnect with the people and push forward individuals who genuinely wanted to serve as candidates.

Meanwhile, Muda’s co-founder Amir Abdul Hadi expressed faith that the current younger generation is more mature and are able to decide for themselves in the next general elections.

“They will not vote solely based on sentiment, but based on policies and what is being offered by each party. Parties with offers and policies that touch on the youths’ agenda, as well as to benefit the people as a whole, will surely be given the space and trust.

“So all parties including Muda have a chance to attract the support of not only the youths but from all ages and backgrounds,” said Amir.

He said Muda also welcomes all parties to field youth candidates in the next general elections

“This is the time to bring forward new ideas.

“At the end of the day, age is just a number if we continue to practise old politics, playing up racial and religious sentiments,” he said.