Snap election may be the best way out of political impasse

V Thomas


LETTER | The best way to clear the political mess is by having a snap election to get a fresh mandate from the people. An interim, minority or unity government, despite looking attractive, will show signs of weakness as some of the political parties are radically opposed to one another. 

BN and PAS want snap polls to solve the political conundrum but Pakatan Harapan is totally opposed to this idea. The Agong has interviewed the 222 MPs to know their views. If the result turns out to be positive in resolving the crisis then the King will have set a political precedent - a convention- which in the future can be followed. This could enhance the monarch’s role.

There are various reasons for some parties to avert a snap election right now. Any election is dicey especially after the present collapse of the government. 

BN and Pas could possibly emerge stronger, despite the corruption cases against Umno leaders, if one looks at the past 20 months, when they have been able to marshal support for various racial and religious issues and others like Icerd. The Malay community may want to shore up its strength after losing power in the last election.

For Harapan, it could mean losing a big chunk of the votes. There will be no 1MDB to harp on like before as it has become a stale issue. What will be more important will be Harapan's records for the last 20 months, which is at best more of a disappointment rather than encouragement. 

Harapan has backtracked on numerous issues and reforms. The euphoria of May 9, 2018 has been replaced by u-turns on promises of legislative reforms such as on Sosma, IPCMC, local government elections and others.

Political tensions have been rising for months and the next election could be fought more on communal/religious lines rather than on political and governance issues. This could be dangerous for the country.

The release of the 12 Indians purportedly for supporting the LTTE has taken the lid off Indian anger and the Indian community’s support will be crucial for both Harapan and BN. 

The Chinese community too has shown its displeasure with Harapan in the Tanjung Piai by-election and also because of the DAP’s handling of the TAR college issue. There has also been no headway on the UEC recognition by the government.

The East Malaysian political parties are also fed up as the Malaysia Agreement 1963 failed to make a legislative breakthrough, which would have given the two states equal partnership status with West Malaysia, due to a lack of a two-thirds majority in Parliament, and the oil royalty issues have not been amicably or fully settled. 

The Sarawakians and Sabahans will also note that under the previous BN government there were major infrastructure and development plans. As usual, they will find themselves thrust into the role as kingmakers in choosing between the two centres of power in the next election but will find it hard to wrest anything substantial from the West Malaysian government.

The biggest problem for the BN/PAS coalition will be choosing a good leader. Possibly the leader will be one from Umno and the deputy from PAS, which could be a good arrangement. BN and PAS will be coming as one as never before for the next election, and it could prove to be a powerful combination that could be a threat to Malay-based Harapan parties such as PKR, Bersatu and Amanah.

Socio-economic factors will also weigh in politically in the election. The cost of living, unemployment, the reduction in government hand-outs such as BSH, the present economic slowdown due to the US-China trade war and the Covid-19 epidemic have affected the country much. It is for fear of these reasons that Harapan wants to avoid a snap election. 

Interim Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s record for the last 20 months has dented his image and he is now a spent force. His support for any party is not going to count much. PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim’s image is also affected by this crisis and he will not be a big vote-getter as before as enthusiasm towards him has ebbed. 

Harapan cannot be making the same promises as before and expect the people to support their manifesto. Former PKR members Azmin Ali and Zuraidah Kamaruddin and the others who left the party may have to join Bersatu as there is no better choice for them than from fading away. They do not stand any chance if they form a party of their own especially after the present crisis.

Whether the 18-21 age group that numbers in the millions will be able to vote is not known. This group, unpredictable at best, is more focused on employment, PTPTN loans, education, affordable housing and other issues affecting the young.

Another important aspect of any snap election is that it may result in a hung Parliament, a situation no better than the present. Both sides will then have to depend on the smaller parties - the tyranny of the minority so to speak. 

Let us hope that the politicians and parties will put the interest of the people as their priority in the formation of a stable and progressive government.

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

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