State elections and Umno polls may shape future of Malaysian govt, says Loke

SINGAPORE: There are two major political events this year that may shape the future of the Malaysian government – with one being the Umno party elections, says Anthony Loke.

"One is of course the leadership election within Umno. Whether this will have any impact on the future of this government is uncertain because the (Barisan Nasional) coalition is made up of decisions made by the leadership of each component party.

"In other words, if there is a change of leadership in Umno, whether or not they will keep to this government or form a government with other parties is something that I cannot answer."

Loke, who is also Transport Minister and DAP secretary-general, was here attending The Regional Outlook Forum 2023 organised by ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

He and former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin joined the stage as panellists at a session titled "The Political Outlook In Malaysia" which was moderated by senior fellow and coordinator, Malaysia studies programme, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Dr Francis Hutchinson.

Nonetheless, Loke noted that "in terms of numbers, the current coalition is very strong.

"In terms of the outlook it should be very stable. We should be able to bring stability to Malaysia," said the Seremban MP.

The second event, he said, was the upcoming elections in six states, three of which are governed by Pakatan Harapan.

"At the very least, the parties must be able to perform well in the three states and try to gain more seats in the northern belt.

"If that is a scenario, of course, that will provide additional motivation for the parties to form the government right now to continue to cooperate and ensure that we can have a functional government," he said.

He said Malaysia would be having state elections in half of the country, latest by July this year.

Loke, however, noted that the most important challenge right now for the government was to bring about "political stability."

"We are working hard even though with a lot of differences among the parties in the government. We try to put aside our differences.

"Soon after we formed the government, we came to the table and signed a coalition agreement (that) governed the functioning of this unity government," he said.

Echoing Loke, Khairy said that political stability was the most important thing that "needs to happen after the 15th General Election."

"Political stability is that cache that gives Malaysia and other countries in South-East Asia that premium for people to come to invest in our country, travel to our country, and to take a long position in our country," he said.

"But there are concerns over government stability. We had more prime ministers in the last few years than some other countries in the last 60 years. So a lot of people are concerned, can Malaysia last?

Khairy stressed that "there is no question that any change in the Umno leadership will result in political instability."

Otherwise, he said, "that will be the point that will be used against us."

Khairy noted that he didn't work "his socks off" to get the country out of the Covid-19 pandemic only to see it continue in instability.

Asked if he would take up a post in Umno, Khairy replied "I'm thinking about it". – Bernama

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