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When elite politics competes with people’s interests

The proposed general election appears to be primarily meant to satisfy the thirst for power of the few at the expense of the majority

From poverty to power and wealth - Sketch by Wong Soak Koon

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Pandemic-fatigued Malaysians have already been given an inkling as to what will happen if and when the threat of Covid-19 virus has subsided, especially after much of the country’s population are already vaccinated.

A general election will be called, reiterated Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin recently, to supposedly ensure that the government of the day remains accountable to the people.

To be sure, calls have been made in recent months by certain quarters, particularly Umno, for a general election to be held as soon as possible, especially when the Perikatan Nasional government’s parliamentary majority is seen to be slipping away from its grip, making it vulnerable.

In the minds of those pursuing this line of thinking, the political instability that the country is facing now can be overcome by seeking a fresh mandate of the people at the ballot box. They are hoping for a more stable government armed with political legitimacy.

To jog our memory, the political instability that has emerged over the last one year can be largely traced to the fact that the PN pact was cobbled in indecent haste to capture Putrajaya after the premature collapse of the democratically elected Pakatan Harapan government. The PN government lacks political legitimacy as a result.

There has also been bickering of various sorts, which is divisive, among the partners of the pact – which has now evolved into a collective of PN and Muafakat Nasional and sometimes Umno-Barisan Nasional – ever since.

Moreover, there appears to be competing interests between certain partners of the PN pact. This is apart from the buying of influence and MPs through plum job offers as a way of gaining political strength.

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An electoral contest may not be what the rest of the country, particularly the poor, the desperate and the disadvantaged, are hoping for. These are people who are haunted, probably daily, by the question of putting food on the table.

We should be mindful that the pandemic and the ensuing movement control order of various versions have imposed economic challenges on the people. Some have been retrenched or made to do jobs that they were not trained for, while quite a number have joined the ranks of the poor.

In the meantime, their children, deemed a “lost generation”, are trying to catch up on their studies after having lost much time away from face-to-face classes amid the pandemic.

The pandemic has also made the gap between the affluent and the struggling so obscene as to make Persian poet Rumi’s observation of an unequal society, as well as a critique of those opposed to music, so poignant.

When asked which music sounds are considered haram in Islam, Rumi replied: The sounds of spoons playing in the pots of the rich, which are heard by the poor and hungry.

In other words, going to polling stations when the poor and the desperate have to eke out a living to survive seems like a luxury of time they can do without.

It would also irk them to know that so much of the taxpayers’ money and other resources would go towards managing and executing the general election instead of helping to revive the sluggish economy for the benefit of the common people.

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Against this backdrop, the proposed general election appears to be primarily meant to satisfy the thirst for power of the few at the expense of the majority, many of whom are merely clinging on hope to survive.

Besides this, there has been a suggestion that is less cumbersome and expensive: determine which leader has the majority to rule the country on the floor of the Dewan Rakyat.

It is crucial that one makes the vital distinction between the survival of ordinary Malaysians and that of the political elite. The two may not coincide. – The Malaysian Insight

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