Selangor state polls will be a ‘litmus test’ for PM Anwar’s government

“Selangor can’t afford to fail. If we fail, there will be a trickle effect on the federal government”, party member Datuk Seri Amirudin said.

Ram Anand

Ram Anand

The Straits Times


Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari said the election in Selangor was “too important to fail” for the Parti Keadilan Rakyat-led Pakatan Harapan coalition. ST PHOTO: SHANNON TEOH

March 24, 2023

SHAH ALAM – The result of the upcoming Selangor state elections would have far-reaching ramifications for Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s government, said Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari.

Datuk Seri Amirudin, a party member in Datuk Seri Anwar’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), said that the election in Malaysia’s richest state was “too important to fail” for the PKR-led Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.

It would also be a “litmus test” for the current federal government, in which PH and former arch-rival Barisan Nasional (BN) are working together for the first time.

“Selangor can’t afford to fail. If we fail, there will be a trickle effect on the federal government,” Mr Amirudin said during an interview with The Straits Times at his official residence on Wednesday.

PH has ruled Selangor for 15 years since 2008, including when it was known as Pakatan Rakyat, and the state remains the crown jewel for Mr Anwar’s PKR. All three state chiefs since 2008 were from his party.

Malaysia is expected to hold simultaneous state legislative elections for six states around July, including Selangor.

Three of the states – Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Penang – are currently held by PH. The other three – Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan – are held by federal opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN).

Mr Amirudin said that the Selangor campaign would focus on the need for a stable government, and give the state a chance to be politically aligned with the PH-BN federal government.

Except for PH’s short-lived first term in power between 2018 and 2020, the past 15 years have seen the Selangor state administration controlled by a coalition different from the one leading the federal government.

Even though the state and federal administrations are currently both led by PH following last year’s general election, Selangor and other states led by PH or BN have not fully adopted the federal model of including their new partners as part of the administration.

Mr Amirudin said that Selangor set the ball rolling last week by accepting BN representatives into the state assembly as government backbenchers.

In Perak and Pahang, where state elections took place alongside last year’s general election, BN and PH joined hands to form the state governments after no clear winner emerged – mirroring the hung Parliament outcome in the national polls.

However, states such as PH-led Penang and Negeri Sembilan, and BN-led Melaka and Johor, have yet to do the same.

Mr Amirudin expects realignments to occur after July’s state elections to better reflect the current federal government composition.

“We have to learn from previous mistakes. We have to learn from the failure of the Perikatan Nasional model, which is based on distrust. They assembled as one at the federal level, but at the state level, they were against each other,” Mr Amirudin said.

He was referring to the PN-BN federal administration between 2020 and 2022, which saw BN and PN compete with each other during state polls in Melaka and Johor.

PN, which is led by former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, is expected to mount a serious challenge for Selangor in the upcoming state polls, given its performance in northern Selangor during the general election. The coalition won six out of 22 parliamentary seats despite that being its first foray into federal polls.

PN’s gains in Selangor reflected the headway it has made in the Malay heartland across the country, essentially allowing it to replace PH’s new partner Umno as the preferred choice for Malay voters.

Mr Amirudin said that he is not overly worried about the new wave of support for PN, and is confident that the performance of Mr Anwar’s administration will appeal to voters.

“We have dealt with multiple crises in one term – the political crisis, the climate change crisis with flooding, and the economic crisis. We have shown the people of Selangor that this administration is agile and resilient.”

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