Malaysia’s ruling coalition goes on the offensive against Kedah’s leader in battle to win the state

Arief Budi
Arief Budi

Global Courant

ALOR SETAR – Malaysia’s ruling coalition has painted a big rose on the back of Kedah’s acting chief minister Sanusi Md Nor as it ramps up its efforts to regain the northern state in the August 12 state polls.

Sanusi, from the federal opposition alliance Perikatan Nasional (PN), was charged in court last week with sedition for insulting the Selangor ruler, and is due to be questioned over alleged corruption related to mining activities in the state.

He claimed his popular TikTok account, with some 540,000 followers, was mysteriously blocked for three days in mid-July and then unblocked, with the Home Secretary and Communications and Digital Minister saying they had no hand in it.

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These developments come just ahead of the August 12 polls that involved six states. Sanusi, 48, is the election director of PN, which is led by two major Malaysian Muslim parties.

Despite these distractions, PN and Sanusi will put up an uphill battle to defend Kedah.

Sanusi became the state’s Menteri Besar (prime minister) after the Pakatan Harapan (PH) state government was overthrown in 2020 following a major shift in alliances among state politicians.

To boost its support among Malaysian voters in Malaysia, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s government coalition led by PH must urgently push back Kedah.

But PH and its main ally Barisan Nasional (BN) could face an uphill battle. Many Kedahans The Straits Times spoke to sang praises of the crass Sanusi.

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During political rallies, his shoot-from-the-hip style and thick Kedah accent resonate with heartlanders in the state, known as Malaysia’s “rice-come state” because it has the highest rice production in the country.

Stock trader Abdul Rahim, 35, who works part-time as a private driver, said Sanusi is “the best Menteri Besar”.

“He builds new roads and he collapses when there are floods. He may be brash, but we don’t mind,” he told ST.

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Of the six states going to the polls in August, PN controls the state governments of Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan. Mr Anwar’s PH-BN alliance controls the other three state assemblies – Penang, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan.

Sanusi, an influential figure, has accused Mr Anwar’s federal government of launching an investigation against him to curtail his speeches.

“In Malaysia, it seems like we can’t say anything. We have a government that is afraid and is using the police to stop our speech,” he told reporters after his appearance on Tuesday.

Malaysia’s ruling coalition goes on the offensive against Kedah’s leader in battle to win the state

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