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Five hot-button issues likely to feature during Malaysia’s GE15 campaigning

Five hot-button issues likely to feature during Malaysia’s GE15 campaigning

The Democratic Action Party (DAP), part of the opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, had urged then-Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob not to waste MPs’ time in tabling and debating the budget if he planned to dissolve parliament.

But the finance ministry rejected such criticism, arguing that it was important for investors’  confidence as well as to allow them to plan their next steps for the year ahead.

Observers told CNA that the latest budget could be described as “populist” as it involves cash handouts and reducing taxes for a large portion of voters.

Those set to benefit include voters who are typically UMNO supporters, solidifying support for Mr Ismail Sabri, said Mr Hafidzi Razali, a senior analyst with strategic advisory firm Bower Group Asia.

But Mr Hafidzi said voters will still consider whether they trust the current government to deliver on its promises, factoring in alternative proposals by opposition coalitions.

On Oct 20, PH announced key themes of its election manifesto that included helping people ride through the high cost of living due to rising inflation.

Mr Ismail Sabri wasted little time in launching a salvo, saying on the same day that the opposition’s election manifesto in the previous election was full of empty promises that left many in the lurch.

It has been said that PH’s failure to fulfil a long list of electoral pledges has tarnished the coalition’s – now back under the leadership of former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim – credibility.

The opposition had only offered empty promises, Mr Ismail Sabri said, comparing it to his latest budget that is ready to be implemented.    

POLITICAL STABILITY 

The opposition’s victory at the 2018 election, which had unseated the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition after 60 years, was heralded as a new dawn for Malaysian politics.

But less than two years into a five-year mandate, voters saw it all disappear.

Infighting over who would succeed Mr Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister and a political manoeuvre dubbed the “Sheraton Move” saw the collapse of the PH government, replaced by a new coalition Perikatan Nasional (PN) led by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) president Muhyiddin Yassin. 

This change in administration was widely criticised as a betrayal to the people’s mandate in the 2018 election, which rejected scandal-hit BN as the federal government. 

After months of political bickering within the PN government and the growing loss of confidence in the leadership of Mr Muhyiddin, especially in the way the government handled the COVID-19 pandemic, the prime minister finally resigned in August 2021.

Mr Muhyiddin’s departure saw the return of BN to the apex of power with the appointment of Mr Ismail Sabri as the third prime minister in the last two years.

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