The six state elections are over and Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s “unity government” has survived.
Not many were surprised by the results.
The federal opposition bloc, Perikatan Nasional, was the big winner. Not only did it defend Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu convincingly, it also made inroads in Penang, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan.
These gains prompted PN chairman Mahiaddin Yasin to say the people want change.
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But what changes to expect from a man and his political allies who ‘backstabbed’ an elected government in 2020? Remember the “Sheraton move”! This same leader failed to manage the pandemic. Instead, he petitioned the King to impose an “emergency”, pre-empting a no-confidence vote in Parliament, allowing him to stay on as prime minister for almost 18 months. Some people have such short memories!
The current PM talked about maintaining the status quo. But clearly, this is not enough, and he needs to confront some hard facts. Many of those who voted for Pakatan Harapan in last November’s general election did not expect the coalition to partner Barisan Nasional to form a unity government. But, out of expediency, it happened and voters had to accept it.
The PM and his coalition-of-coalitions need to be pragmatic and rid themselves of those who are not pulling their weight in the unity government. The party’s post-mortem has to be honest, real and results-oriented. Otherwise, it will be ‘same-same’ all over again.
Meanwhile, the blame game has started, and Muda has been accused of being a party pooper. But what guarantee is there that votes taken up by Muda would have gone to PH-BN? Isn’t it possible that if Muda had not contested, more votes could have gone to PN?
Let’s be real about how PN made inroads in some states. The coalition did not come up with anything new. It did what it had have always done: using religion and racial rhetoric – the same strategy Umno-BN used when it was in power. So, it is the same old rhetoric – except it is wrapped in ‘green’ paper.
Polarisation is happening. The majority of the ethnic Malay votes have gone to PN, as Malaysia becomes more and more ethnically divided.
Even though the unity government has support from across the communities, it still cannot bridge the gap in the Malay community. Thus, this ethnic voting trend will continue to divide the country.
If politicians and leaders do not stop exploiting ethnic sentiments, national unity will be undermined. It is simply a case of divide and rule – which is what PN is adopting, and it will do anything to undermine the PM and his government.
It is sad and frightening that this has become the trend in Malaysian politics. It is a trend that will jeopardise the multi-ethnic nature of Malaysia, a democratic country whose government is decided based on a popular mandate in periodic elections.
It has not been easy for the PM and his government to gain public support and confidence, especially as it has been in power for only eight months. Many had expected him to bring down the cost of living – never mind the current global economic crisis beyond his control. Yes, inflation has been hard on most people in Malaysia, and naturally, many will blame the PM and the government for not doing enough.
But, in a small way, it is heartening that despite its best efforts, PN has failed to topple the unity government.
Now that the elections are over, the PM has to move forward and promote a Madani (a caring and compassionate) economy for everyone in Malaysia. He has committed himself to improving the people’s wellbeing through inclusivity with fair policies. He also needs to look into the needs of lower-income and middle-income households.
The government and its coalition parties must go down to the ground. Meet the people, listen to them, maintain regular interaction to help them, and provide fast and efficient solutions.
Only then will the Madani concept be relevant and meaningful – when they see the government taking the time to listen to and help those in need.
So, to the PM and his unity government – make it happen!
jem is the pseudonym of an Aliran reader