PETALING JAYA, Jan 8: The rejection of applications by Pejuang and Muda to be registered as political parties is just part of a “Malaysian tradition” for the government to make life difficult for its rivals, says a political analyst.
James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said it was usual for the government to get the opposition to cross a few hurdles before new political parties were registered.
“They put up roadblocks for opposition parties,” he said. “PPBM also faced a delay in their registration. They had to threaten a legal case against the government before it was registered.”
Chin predicted that both parties’ applications would be approved once they filed a suit, as “the government grounds for rejection will not stand up in court”.
Yesterday, a lawyer for Pejuang, the party founded by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said the Registrar of Societies had rejected the party’s application for registration. The registrar also rejected the application by Muda, a party formed by former youth minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.
Chin said the registrar had probably rejected both parties to avoid being accused of a double standard.
Another analyst, Oh Ei Sun, said the government had denied the parties’ registrations as an act of precaution, although it was unlikely that Pejuang or Muda could gain much support from the conservative Malay majority, which played a large role in determining the future of the country.
“Both Mahathir and Syed Saddiq could not appeal to these voters materialistically, as they have essentially nothing to offer as handouts. Nor could they match the tremendous nationalistic and religious appeals of Umno and PAS.
“But equally true is that nowadays you cannot afford to take any political chances, so might as well nip them in the bud,” said Oh, who is a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.
However, Bridget Welsh of the University of Nottingham Malaysia said the rejections were a sign of the Perikatan Nasional administration’s political insecurity.
“The government recognises that if more of the Malay electorate is divided, the more it undercuts their support,” she said.
She said PPBM’s most significant fear was over the support of young voters, over whom Syed Saddiq’s Muda had a strong hold.