Political coalitions in Malaysia: Fluid, fleeting and fickle

Despite being part of the same coalition as Umno at the national level, Parti Islam SeMalaysia is running against the grand old party in the upcoming Melaka polls. This might well reflect a new normal in the country's politics.

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Last week, more than a few eyebrows were raised when Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) president Abdul Hadi Awang decided not to contest the upcoming Melaka state election alongside the party's formal alliance partner, the United Malays National Organisation, or Umno. Instead, the party will run with former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin's party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), under another coalition, Perikatan Nasional, in the Nov 20 polls.

This has led some to question the Islamist party's strategic capabilities, in particular its penchant for drifting into, and out of, various coalitions.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2021, with the headline Political coalitions in Malaysia: Fluid, fleeting and fickle. Subscribe