A general election of many firsts

The writer says the truth is Malaysia isn’t ready for such a drastic change, a non-Malay/Muslim rising to the highest executive position.


October 28, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR – There’s no use moaning on social media about politics and the government if you don’t exercise your constitutional right to vote.

THE world is going through seismic changes.

Minorities holding top leadership positions seem to be the in-thing, from US Vice-President Kamala Harris to newly elected British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

It is admirable to see societies accept minorities as their leaders. It is most certainly a reflection of the political maturity of the electorates and the trust in the institution of the executive.

But is Malaysia ready for this?

It will be an exercise in futility if we were to compare British Indian Sunak’s ascension as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to a similar situation occurring in Malaysia.

The truth is this country isn’t ready for such a drastic change, a non-Malay/Muslim rising to the highest executive position.

A good case in point was the backlash after the 14th General Election when minorities were appointed to the key positions of Attorney General and Finance Minister.

But that’s water under the bridge now. The next GE is upon us in barely a month, and it doesn’t really matter who we choose as our new leaders – Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban, Orang Asli. What’s most important is that we have an elected government in place, and not one that does not have the mandate of the rakyat.

General apathy and indifference is to be expected from the electorate who are fed up with the changes in government since 2018. What is uppermost in everyone’s minds now is the rise in the cost of living, not political power plays.

So, yes, Malaysians need to vote. It is a right enshrined in our Constitution. And if they don’t, then they have no right to complain with the government that they get with their lack of votes.

Vote for your children, vote for improved education that will strengthen this nation, vote for transparency so that there is progress in how things are governed, vote for peace because a good government will ensure peace. And above all, vote because you love Malaysia.

Throughout history, men and women have fought for their right to vote – and some have even died for this.

Unfortunately, even now, many people across the world are still struggling for the right to vote.

Think about countries like Afghanistan, North Korea and Myanmar that don’t have democratic political institutions.

In such countries, citizens are denied the right to vote and have their voice heard, without any option to shape their government and their future.

We Malaysians though are privileged to have this right. We are lucky to live in a country where democracy is a way of life.

In many respects GE15 is set to be a game changer.

The first RM1bil election. The first election where 18-year-olds can vote. The first where automatic voter registration is implemented. And probably the first where voter turnout could reach 20 million people.

It will also be the first time that four coalitions will be facing off. This points to numerous multi-cornered tussles and a likelihood that we will not get a party with a clear mandate.

And the fear is that we will have a repeat of the shenanigans that took place after Pakatan Harapan’s 2018 victory. The government that earned the mandate then proved to be a marriage of convenience between disparate parties with different ideological beliefs.

The inevitable, via a huge helping hand from the Sheraton Move, happened. But then, our next two governments, Bersatu and Umno-led, also proved to be incompatible.

The net result for the country is that we have had three prime ministers over the last four years, not as bad as the UK who have had four in a similar period. But this doesn’t bode well for the future of the country as investors are usually jittery about a government’s stability.

Analysts are already predicting that no single coalition would be able to get a clear two-thirds majority and there is a distinct possibility that we will be faced with a similar political situation that we have been through for the last four years.

We really don’t want to end up like Greece (five GEs in nine years) or Israel (five GEs in four years!) It will be utter chaos.

So, it’s even more important this time around to choose our “Yang Berhormats” wisely.

GE15’s battleground will be on social media rather than the ceramah in football fields or community halls.

These talks may have attracted thousands in the past, but a TikTok account allows the politician to reach millions via a smartly crafted 30-second video.

Be wary of paid cybertroopers who will attempt to sow the seeds of disunity by playing up racial and religious rhetoric. ‘Tis the season after all.

But seriously though, there’s no use complaining and moaning on social media about politics and the government if you don’t exercise your constitutional right to vote. Don’t be that person who complains about the results because you chose not to participate in the democratic process.

Get out there and make your vote count!

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