Can Anwar Ever Attract The Support Of Malay Voters? An Analysis Of Malaysia’s Political Polarisation


About the Hybrid Seminar

Hopes for political stability after a tumultuous period following the fall of the “grand, old” Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in 2018, multiple prime ministers and the pandemic rested on a decisive outcome at Malaysia’s general election in November last year. It did not come. Voters sent back the first hung parliament in Malaysia’s history. Eventually, Anwar Ibrahim was able to cobble together an arrangement of convenience to form a government and fulfill a lifetime’s ambition of becoming prime minister.

It has been well documented that Anwar’s own coalition, Pakatan Harapan (PH), only managed to win a small share of the Malay vote. A majority of Malaysia’s ethnic majority voted for the opposition coalition Perikatan Nasional (PN), which includes the Islamist Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS). Anwar has spent the first few months of his premiership attempting to shore up support in the Malay community. This has proved challenging as he carries with him significant political liability in the form of his partner in government, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). The party is led by Zahid Hamidi, now deputy prime minister, who still faces 47 charges of corruption and money laundering.

The seminar will dive into whether Anwar can win over Malay voters, especially in the upcoming six state elections scheduled in two months. This will be an important barometer for Malaysia’s political stability and the Anwar-led government’s longevity. The analysis will also focus on whether PN will continue to make inroads into urban territories held by PH at the state polls and assess whether the much-discussed “green wave” is of concern to Malaysia’s multiracial population.

About the Speaker

Khairy Jamaluddin is a Visiting Senior Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. Previously, he served as Minister at Malaysia’s ministries of Youth and Sports, Science and Technology, and Health. He was also the Coordinating Minister for the Covid-19 Immunisation Programme. He was a three-term Member of Parliament and former Leader of UMNO Youth.


This is a hybrid event which will be held at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS).

Attending the Event In-person at ISEAS

To join the event in-person at ISEAS, please register via the ISEAS mobile app, available on iOS and Android via the Apple or Play store. Search “ISEAS” to find or scan this QR code.

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Seating capacity is limited. Do register early to avoid disappointment.

Attending the Event Virtually via Webinar

To join the event virtually at the specified date and time using your internet devices, please register here to receive your unique login link for the webinar via the zoom platform.

If you have questions for the speaker, please key in your questions via the Q&A, stating your name and affiliation. The moderator will field them to the speaker during the Q&A session.


May 09 2023


10:00 am - 11:15 am


ISEAS Seminar Room 2 / Webinar