Malaysian PM’s party wins landslide victory in state polls

MALACCA -- The Malay party of Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob won a landslide victory Saturday in a state election, beating both its allies in government and the opposition before the national elections.

Malaysian PM’s party wins landslide victory in state polls

MALACCA -- The Malay party of Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob won a landslide victory Saturday in a state election, beating both its allies in government and the opposition before the national elections.

20 November 2021 Saturday 15:31
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Malaysian PM’s party wins landslide victory in state polls

MALACCA -- The Malay party of Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob won a landslide victory Saturday in a state election, beating both its allies in government and the opposition before the national elections.

Ismail's United Malays National Organization (UMNO) won the southern Malacca state election. This was seen as a sign that it could help to shape national elections after a period of political turmoil. Although the elections are not scheduled for 2023, they are widely expected to take place next year.

UMNO was Malaysia's leader since 1957 independence from Britain. However, it was defeated in 2018 elections by Ibrahim Anwar's reformist alliance. This alliance had been formed after a multibillion dollar financial scandal led to Najib Razak being convicted of corruption.

Anwar's alliance collapsed after Muhyiddin Yassin resigned from his Bersatu party. He formed a new government that included UMNO, Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PMIP) and other parties. Infighting forced Muhyiddin to resign in August. Ismail, Muhyiddin’s deputy, assumed office and restored UMNO to power.

UMNO, Bersatu and the ruling alliance's largest parties are at odds but have agreed to share power until next year's general election. Both parties are competing for support from ethnic Malays who make up two-thirds Malaysia's 31million people.

According to the Election Commission, the UMNO-led National Front coalition won 21 of 28 state assembly seats. Anwar's opposition won five, and Bersatu two.

Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asia specialist at Malaysia's Nottingham University, stated that voters returned to the UMNO/National Front fold because this coalition is associated more financial security during a time when there was insecurity.

She stated that it was also a major defeat of the opposition and showed voters had rejected Anwar's leadership.

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (UMNO President) is also being tried for corruption. He said that the people of Malacca sent a clear message that they want stability and prosperity. Opposition politicians blamed a low voter participation of 66% for their loss.

Analysts believe that a major win for UMNO may lead to problems in the ruling party states led by Bersatu. This could accelerate plans for early general election and prompt the Islamic Party PAS or other supporter Bersatu to reconsider their alliance.

Malacca is about two hours drive from Kuala Lumpur. Campaigning was restricted in Malacca due to strict rules. The country has just emerged from a viral lockdown following a successful vaccination campaign. Campaigning was moved to social media, with the ban on political rallies and house-visits.

As Malaysia slowly opens its borders to travelers who have been vaccinated, the polls were conducted. More than 76% of the country's population has been vaccinated, including most adults. From August's peak of over 20,000, the number of daily infections has fallen to around 6,000. There have been 2.57 million infections and almost 30,000 deaths in the country.

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