COMMENT | The ratio of controversies in the upcoming general election versus the previous election in 2013 is probably 50:1 in Malaysia right now.
In the last general election, the key issue was just the ability of the opposition front, then known as Pakatan Rakyat (People's Coalition), to unite as a major electoral pact.
Can three parties, representing the interests of the Malays, Chinese, Indians and others, cohere as a common unit that can weed out the corruption in Malaysia?
Some were convinced, others were not. As it turned out, the (Prime Minister) Najib (Abdul Razak’s) government led by Umno emerged from the electoral fray triumphant. But it barely won with enough votes, it actually lost popular votes.
Umno scraped through, by gaining 47.38 percent of the popular voters, while the opposition had the remainder 50.87 percent. Had it not for the gerrymandered constituencies, Umno would have lost. Instead, despite receiving less popular votes, the Umno-led government had 59.90 percent of the 222 seats in the Parliament, registering 133 seats win.
In the upcoming 14th general election, Najib is facing a tall order again. Some issues are insurmountable, such as 1MDB, as billions have been allegedly swindled or stolen out of the company.
It is arguably one of the largest corruption, malfeasance and abuse of power case in the world, and will, therefore, invite the scrutiny of the US Department of Justice further, not forgetting at least six other jurisdictions that include Singapore, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the UK and Germany.
As things are, the Umno-led government has to contend with 50 issues which neither Umno nor BN, can resolve over the next few years. Invariably, both are entering the impending 14th general election with excessive baggage.
Among them are the 1MDB scandal; the imposition of a six percent GST on all transactions; the mysterious US$681 million that found its way into Najib's private bank account; the phenomenal rise in the cost of living; the fluctuating prices of oil; the depreciation of ringgit; the prosaic and daily difficulties in making ends meet.
Indeed, one might add the suspension and depletion of the Mara scholarship; the drastic cuts in the subsidy of academic studies; the reduction in the value of bargain with foreigners over the sale of Bandar Malaysia; plus the drop in Malaysia’s reputation abroad...