MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku



Wednesday, June 29, 2022

It's increasingly hard to be excited by GE15


This is real, of course. A lot of people say they do not like politics and are put off by it. They have good reasons for their disillusionment.

Now, with the 15th general election (GE15) hovering over the horizon, the refrain is getting louder.

While there is no official study (not in Malaysia, anyway), there could be three probable reasons why many dislike politics.

First, to the common people, politics imply conflicts, and conflicts can be messy.

They have seen the discord, the antagonism and the collision of interests, and almost always, they walk away with the view that politics is not about serving but about squandering. That’s the second thing.

Thirdly, they think politicians just cannot be trusted. Especially when many politicians have shown that they are in politics for self-serving interests. Look at the increasing number of political frogs around us.

Let us roll back to March 12, when the Johor state elections were held.

Were these the reasons for the listless mood of the polls?

The turnout was just 54.9 percent - the lowest in Malaysia’s electoral history.

The low turnout was despite much hype before the polls about the young crowd coming out for the first time to vote following the passage of the Undi18 Act.

More than 749,000 youngsters aged 18 to 21 years were eligible to vote, which accounted for about 30 percent of the nearly 2.6 million registered voters in the state.

However, the expected deluge of young voters did not happen.

In three state elections held earlier - in Sabah (Sept 26, 2020), Malacca (Nov 20, 2021) and Sarawak (Dec 18, 2021) - the turnout averaged around 65 percent, even without the young ones in the voting process.

It was a big disappointment for the Election Commission, which was counting on the Undi18 newbies to boost the Johor turnout to more than 70 percent. It didn’t happen.

Let’s just say the absent voters were only busy with their own life - a new job to work on, going to school, taking care of the family, plus having some leisure and a little fun and, mostly, keeping away from the path of the stalking Covid-19.

With such priorities, it is easy to lose sight of why putting a politician in the state assembly should matter.

Essentially, no matter what the cynics say, politics is the whole crux of decisions made by the government; which pays for roads, bridges, airports, mass transit, schools, public hospitals, health care, retirement programmes, police and fire services, parks, economic development, national defence and a host of other things.

The odds are, as one goes through life, the person is going to care more or even worry about politics.

From rules for driving to requirements for admission into institutes of higher learning, every decision is decided in a process that involves politicians.

It will dawn on people that if there is a broken fence to repair, they would be the ones to do it. And they would begin to realise it takes just an’ X’ on the ballot paper to mark the person most likely to help them mend the fence.

That’s essentially how politics and government work.

Now, conversations have turned to GE15, and both the young and old have to sit up and face the country’s political realities.

The scheduled end of the current parliamentary term is June 2023.

The word being spread, however, is that Parliament could be disbanded as early as by October this year to make way for fresh national polls.

Initially, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob was reluctant to be dragged into any debate on the date of the polls, saying it would affect political stability and all efforts to revitalise the economy.

However, during a meeting with a women’s group in his Bera parliamentary constituency last week (June 21), the PM, who is an Umno vice-president, was reported to have said GE15 may be held much earlier than expected.

Not specifying any date, he told party workers not to wait until the last minute to prepare.

As a rejoinder, will there be another show of indifference and dissension by a recalcitrant crowd?

Or will the voters be coming out in droves this time around, considering it will be the ultimate battle for political supremacy and a chance for the country to bounce back from its economic doldrums under a possible new regime?

The thing is, issues plaguing the country need to be resolved before the election is held, not when another faltering government takes over.

The common people have grown fed up with the shenanigans over the past four years that had scarred the country’s political stability and economic uptake, notwithstanding the Covidemic threat to the rakyat’s well-being.

Enough is enough. From now, the rakyat will be in charge, watching every move made, every word said by politicians who might think they can lord over the common people once they carry the titular “Yang Berhormat”.

The people know that whoever or which political alliance is elected, they will again try to change the nature and operation of the country’s administration and, once more, that will affect us all.

Sadly, I’m not sure that GE15, no matter which side is victorious, will be able to make significant changes for the better of this nation.

Somehow, after the dust is settled and a new government is formed, I worry that the same endless politicking and dirty mudslinging will start again.

Why? Because the same leaders are still around. I don’t think we can expect much to change from the same old, same old weary, tired, quarrelsome and self-centred politicians who just refuse to go away.

If ever there is a perfect time when I wish to be proven wrong, this is it. - Mkini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH is a veteran Sarawak editor and heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS). He can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com.

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

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