The New People’s Power Party in Malaysia: Cui bono?

Malaysia’s political landscape is volatile enough and the parliamentary majority of the ruling coalition under Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob is wafer thin at best. A truce agreement with the opposition is due to the Covid-related problems which are affecting the Malaysian economy and result in sufferings of large groups of the population.

Parti Kuasa Rakyat, in short Kuasa or People’s Power Party, was launched on 10 October 2021, chaired by Kamarazaman Yaakob, a former member of the Parti Sosialis Rakyat Malaysia who happens to be the elder brother of Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
In the actual parliamentary cliff-hanger situation, the formation of a new party invites questions about the intentions of the founders and what they expect to change and what their target groups are. The two millennia-old classical Latin form of this question is cui bono?, or to whom is it a benefit? in English. It was used by top lawyers like Cicero to identify the possible motives of crime suspects. Now, setting up a political party is not a crime at all, but the founders must expect that their motives will be scrutinized by the political competitors and political observers.

An analysis published by the Malay Mail on 13th October sums it up in the headline ‘Left-leaning’ but govt-friendly, pundits predict new party Kuasa to split urban Malay votes from Pakatan. Chairman Kamarazaman claims that the new party will be friendly to the government, but insisted that it has no links to Prime Minister Ismail Sabri and the ruling UMNO. Political observers interviewed by Malay Mail see its role as more divisive, as vote-splitters in favor of the ruling coalition and viable alternative for opposition voters. Political science professor Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid from the Universiti Sains Malaysia, thinks that Kuasa is an attempt to snatch urban middle-class Malay votes away from the opposition and expose the latter as ultimately a coalition dominated by non-Malays. Setting up a splitting-party is not illegal. Its purpose, though, will be judged depending on the political standpoint of the observer. It will be seen as a dirty trick by the losing target group and on the other side as a fabulous strategy. That is political contestation and common in competitive party systems.

See the Malay Mail article here