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Wading through uncharted waters of looming general election

It would be insensitive to the welfare and problems of the ordinary people if the polls are held in the near future

Massive Klang Valley floods 2021

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When shall we go to the polls again in thunder, lightning or in rain?

The above expression, which is paraphrased from a line in Shakespeare’s Macbeth play, is merely to illustrate the overflowing enthusiasm and determination of Umno, particularly its president, Zahid Hamidi, in calling for a snap general election.

Zahid was recently quoted as saying that the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) was willing to even wade through floods that are expected to occur in the country’s impending monsoon season – if that is what it takes to have the coming general election soon.

Accusing his critics of taking his recent remarks out of context, Zahid insisted that his comment was meant to tell Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob that the BN machinery was ready for the coming general election, irrespective of the situation on the ground and challenges.

But his response would only reinforce the critics’ contention that BN would rather have the polls as soon as possible, even if it means having to brave the floods and other challenges. Come what may.

To be sure, Ismail had also hinted that the polls would be held “soon” when he recently launched the election machinery of the BN’s youth wing.

If there’s any doubt about this unwavering determination to have a snap election, MCA president Wee Ka Siong chipped in to say that all parties must be prepared for any eventualities, including floods and the general election.

It begs the question here, though, whether preparing for an early election should run concurrently with helping people to get ready to face the onslaught of the imminent floods. In short, what should be the priority in the interest of the people?

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The worst-case scenario is that the common people, particularly those living in flood-prone areas, would have to contend with the hazards of rising water as well as the intrusion of electoral campaigns into their lives, which are already inundated with many challenges.

Based on past flooding incidents in the country, you can imagine some of the flood victims being desperate enough to scale to their rooftops to save their lives from rising waters and to salvage whatever valuables they have, if possible. Voting would be the last thing on their minds for people in such dire circumstances.

The unfortunate ones might succumb to the rushing waters, especially when resources that could save lives would have been diverted to electioneering activities instead.

Incidentally, some schools that are normally converted into evacuation centres would be turned into polling stations, thus adversely affecting the urgent needs of flood victims.

Not only would the lives of these people be at stake, they may also be deprived of the democratic right to vote and choose a government. In other words, the turnout may be low.

Even if the polls are held before the monsoon season, as suggested by Zahid and compatriots, some people may feel discouraged about returning to vote, particularly in flood-prone constituencies.

The time available should be used to put into place flood mitigation mechanisms and other forms of preparation by the people.

As for the government, it should use the time to address some of the challenges, such as tackling the falling ringgit, curbing the rising cost of living and improving the economy – instead of getting busy preparing for the general election.

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To be sure, there are indeed detractors from outside and within BN.

Bersih, for instance, is opposed to a snap election as it is concerned that the Election Commission may have to spend additional money to run it during the monsoon season. The additional sum would be better used for the benefit of the people, especially the poor and the needy.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, an Umno leader, is also against an early election as he is troubled by the likelihood that – as mentioned above – many schools would be used as polling centres as opposed to much-needed shelters for flood victims.

A higher transmission of waterborne diseases because of the floods is also weighing on his mind.

Given the above scenario, it would be insensitive to the welfare and problems of the ordinary people if the polls are held immediately.

Demanding an early election in – to borrow Macbeth again – thunder, lightning or in rain, is indeed disturbing. – The Malaysian Insight

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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