By Invitation

Birth pangs of a 'New Malaysia'

As an untested ruling coalition, Pakatan Harapan needs time. That said, its leaders need to better manage fissures within the coalition and its constituent members or face further loss of confidence.

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In Sabah, a state with a notorious reputation for "katak" politics I hasten to add, Umno was dealt a particularly massive blow when the core of its state leadership jumped ship and now nonchalantly proclaim themselves to be "Pakatan friendly", or more accurately, "Mahathir friendly", independents.

In response to the suspicious eyes being cast their way, the leaders of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, the Pakatan party which has been most welcoming of defectors, have taken pains to reassure their allies and supporters that they would only consider taking in former Umno members who are "not out to create tension", "not crooks and criminals", and "not implicated (in the malfeasance associated with the 1MDB saga)". Note how the qualifications are all couched in the negative. Note also, the party's reluctance to distance itself from political opportunists.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2019, with the headline Birth pangs of a 'New Malaysia'. Subscribe