Webinar on “Malaysia’s Opposition Ahead of GE-15: Strategies, Tactics, and Challenges”

YB Teo Nie Ching, MP for Kulai and Democratic Action Party (DAP) National Publicity Secretary and Mr Zaidel Baharuddin, Vice President of Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) discussed the opposition parties’ strategies and approaches for Malaysia’s GE15 campaigning.


Monday, 10 October 2022 – With widespread anticipation that Prime Minister Ismail Sabri would soon call for the dissolution of the Malaysian parliament, the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute hosted a webinar entitled “Malaysia’s Opposition Ahead of GE-15: Strategies, Tactics, and Challenges”. The two invited guest speakers are Ms Teo Nie Ching, Member-of-Parliament for Kulai and the Democratic Action Party (DAP) National Publicity Secretary, and Mr Zaidel Baharuddin, Vice President of the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA). Dr Francis Hutchinson, Senior Fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute and Coordinator for the Malaysia Studies Programme, moderated the webinar.

Speakers Ms Teo Nie Ching and Mr Zaidel Baharuddin with moderator Dr Francis Hutchinson. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Dr Hutchinson started the webinar by asking for the presenters’ opinions on the lessons learnt from Pakatan Harapan (PH)’s 22 months in government, as well as the impacts of the passing of UNDI-18 bill.  Ms Teo highlighted that her coalition remains steadfast and committed to implementing reforms, despite losing power after the Sheraton Move. She explained that PH has pushed for a clean and transparent government in election campaigns, while translating these goals into concrete policies when serving as government. Despite being unable to serve a full five-year term, PH has gained valuable experience. Ms Teo argued that the current administration led by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri has shown little appetite to pursue reforms, as illustrated in the recent Budget speech where cash assistance was the centre of attention with almost no reference to policy and fiscal reforms. Ms Teo further explained that PH component parties provide ample opportunities for young aspiring Malaysians to rise up through the ranks, which has enabled PH to be an attractive option especially among the younger electorate. Mr Zaidel started his sharing with an overview of the salient issues concerning Malaysians, in particular among young Malaysians. He argued that the Malaysian economy is facing strong headwinds with a lack of well-paid jobs while the cost of living remains unabated, resulting in young Malaysians being increasingly stretched economically. Mr Zaidel commented that MUDA would work actively to uplift the Malaysian economy.

Dr Hutchinson had a follow-up question concerning the strategies of DAP/PH and MUDA in the upcoming election, with the likelihood of PH collaborating with BN. Mr Zaidel replied that the shared values and ideologies between MUDA and PH enabled potential collaboration between the two sides. He commented that the details for collaboration and seat negotiations are still ongoing, but MUDA is extremely willing to work with PH with the hope of avoiding clashes in the General Election. In addition, MUDA is looking to target Malay majority semi-urban seats with a sizeable share of young voters. Ms Teo clarified that comments by DAP Secretary General Anthony Loke on not ruling out a potential PH tie-up with BN referred to the context where no coalition possesses an absolute majority post-election. Ms Teo said that PH remains keen to govern alone without partnering with BN, should the former successfully secure an absolute majority in the upcoming election. However, should PH fail to gain an absolute majority, it is amenable to collaborate with BN post-election to achieve sufficient seats in parliament to form the government.  Ms Teo ruled out the possibility that PH would enter any collaborations with BN before polling day.

In the Question-and-Answer segment, participants asked about the main takeaways from Johor state election, the amount of interest towards politics among the young electorate, and whether PH’s needs-based approach in contrast to traditional racial politics could gain sufficient traction in Malaysia, among other topics.

The webinar attracted about 70 participants from the region.