Malaysiakini Letter

3 reasons a two-party system may finally occur in M'sia's history

Kerk Chee Yee  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | We will face the general election (GE14) in a matter of weeks or months and no doubt we are facing the most important election of all times. Malaysia is now at a juncture where Malaysians can potentially decide the fate of the nation for the next several decades - if not centuries - when a two-party system or two-coalition system finally takes place for the first time in the history of Malaysia.

In democratic countries where people can elect their government via ballots, we often see a change of government, mostly by two dominating parties or coalitions in their respective political landscape. Ironically, the same has not happened to Malaysia for the past 61 years.

In GE13 which took place in 2013, there was a clear rejection by the people of BN when around 52 percent of Malaysian voters voted for Pakatan Rakyat, the then opposition pact. However, due to gerrymandering, BN still obtained 60 percent of parliamentary seats (133 of 222) and formed the government with just 47 percent of popular votes.

Malaysians demanded a change in government not only because BN failed to be a competent and responsible government, but due to the public's understanding of the importance of a normal democracy and two-coalition system. It’s been for some time now that Malaysians are frustrated and upset about the economic situation we are in, but the leaders of BN and even Prime Minister Najib Razak himself repeatedly ignored and denied the voice of the rakyat.

Without a two-coalition system where a government can be held responsible and risks losing its position if the people are dissatisfied and are empowered to exert influence on the ruling coalition, we are more likely to see complacency than improvements.

In the context of GE14, the three conditions below will provide a good chance for Malaysia to achieve a two-coalition system for the first time in its history.

Information-friendly environment

The has been a revolutionary change in how people obtain information in the past 10 to 15 years. Social media has become an essential part of the daily routine for many. The rise of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and messaging apps such as Whatsapp, Wechat and Line has transformed the way information is disseminated and discussed.

If we were to look back at 2008, the historical swing of electoral votes in favour of the opposition was largely attributed to the rise of the social media era. In Malaysia, where BN holds control in most of the media, be it television news, printed press or radio broadcasting, social media paves the way for information to be obtained by the masses.

Without the internet and social media, financial scandals like 1MDB or FGV may never have been made known to concerned Malaysians. We may even believe claims by our PM and his ministers that our economy is doing fantastically.

In an information-friendly environment that we are in now, BN may use “fake news” to explain away scandals and governance failures, but they will never be able to completely stop the truth from being heard.

Harapan’s ability to turn zeal into motion

A government is supposed to take care of the people and any coalition that is serious about its vision as a government must be at least able to provide solutions to the problems faced by the people.

Winning in the election and forming the federal government is only the first step. What Harapan has to work on includes short term and long term measures to its vision on a new Malaysia where the era of a corrupt ruling regime must end so that there will be reasons for Malaysia to shine.

Solutions to the dire economic situations such as declining purchasing power, affordability of properties, unemployment among youths and more must be handled with enough political will and proper execution. Harapan has formulated in its manifestos the plan in addressing the issues concerned, which will be launched soon.

By announcing the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister candidates as well as completing seat allocations months before the general election is called, Harapan is pacing itself very well in the preparation for the battle. Harapan has properly and successfully turned its zeal into motion and is ready to change Malaysia for all Malaysians.

Voters’ sentiment

This is perhaps the most important condition. Many are angered by and upset with the regime, and many are looking forward to a change.

No Malaysian is left inspired by a PM who put them into a tough economic situation and repeatedly told them to be grateful with what BN is doing; no Malaysian is left inspired by a ruling coalition that does not take battling corruption seriously while the nation is being named a “kleptocracy at its worst”; no Malaysian is left inspired by being deprived of a normal democracy and being denied the chance to express their concerns electorally.

I’m just as angry, upset, and disappointed as you. Which is why we must each make sure we are doing all we can to materialise a new beginning for Malaysia.

It’s a lie by BN that tomorrow will not be better when they’re gone. It’s a lie they want you to believe.

Let’s change Malaysia forever in the coming general election.

KERK CHEE YEE is the political secretary to DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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