GE14 : As The Dust Settles

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The Malaysian Coat-of-Arms, The Jalur Gemilang (National Flag), and the Bunga Raya (or Hibiscus, The National Flower) (source : malaysia.gov.my)

The general elections GE14 has come and gone, and as the dust begins to settle, it is obvious that this edition of the general elections is not a typical general election, as like what Malaysians were used to in the past.

The 14th General Elections (GE14) pitted two coalitions, Barisan Nasional (BN) headed by a sitting Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak, the 6th  Prime Minister of Malaysia, with the other coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) headed by an ex-Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia.

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Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (photo credit : malaymailonline.com.my)

Some may consider that as not something new nor strange but throw in the fact that the sitting Dato’ Sri Najib is 64 years of age and the ex-Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir, is 93 years of age, then it does set you back a bit.

It gets even weirder when it emerges that the 4th Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir, was the head of the coalition that the 6th Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Najib, is now heading.

The weird stuff does not end there.

The father of the 6th Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Najib, was the 2nd Prime Minister of Malaysia ie Tun Abdul Razak, and it was Tun Abdul Razak, that brought the 4th Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir, into the party ie United Malays National Organization (UMNO) AFTER the 1st Prime Minister of Malaysia ie Tunku Abdul Rahman had Dr Mahathir (as he was known then) expelled from UMNO.

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Dato’ Sri Mohamad Najib Tun Abdul Razak (photo credit : wikipedia)

Back to the present, for one reason or another, the two ie Tun Mahathir and Dato’ Sri Najib, had a major falling out (over issues that have been speculated many a times in the public domain) and Tun Mahathir quit UMNO, as he had done when he had a falling out with his successor, the 5th Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (over the same issues, it has been speculated).

May 9th was the date chosen as the day when 14,806,185 registered Malaysian voters would take to the polls to decide on who will steer the Federal government for the next five (5) years and by 5 pm on the same day, 82.32% of the electorate had casted their votes.

As the counting of the votes casted went into the night, it became apparent that a change of government at both state and Federal levels became more of a possibility rather than a probability.

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The Prime Minister’s Office, Putrajaya. (photo credit : Shah Said ; @ all rights reserved)

By the time the Election Commission announced the complete official results of the polls the following day, it was more of a confirmation rather than an announcement as by then, it was a given that the coalition headed by Tun Mahathir had won a majority and with it, the right to form the Federal government for the next five (5) years (2018-2023).

At 92 years of age, Tun Mahathir, who was the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia having held high office for 22 years from 1981 til 2003, is also the 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia, after being sworn in before His Majesty The King, on Thursday, the 10th of May 2018 at 9.30pm at the Istana Negara.

And with the signing of the instrument of office as Prime Minister, a new chapter in the political history of Malaysia began.

Revisiting the polls that had just taken place, a glance of the results showed that the coalition led by Tun Mahathir, Pakatan Harapan, won 113 seats out of 222 seats in the 14th Malaysian parliament, with BN having won only 79 seats, the Islamist party PAS 18 seats, the Sabah-based state-centric party Warisan with 8 seats complemented by Independents.

The numbers could change even further as some newly minted MPs may decide to switch camps and join the victors of GE14. After all, everybody loves a winner, they say.

It is also apparent that GE14 was not about electing a government but rather, it turned out to be a referendum on Dato’ Sri Najib himself.

As polling went on, BN candidates discovered that their service track records in their respective constituencies as well as their performance as elected representatives count for nought as the voters went for the Pakatan Harapan candidates in droves, irrespective whether they are ‘nomad’ candidates, ‘parachute’ candidates, ‘new and inexperienced’ candidates, etc etc.

Reading into the election results, it is clear that Dato’ Sri Najib had been given the thumbs down by the electorate.

Dato’ Sri Najib may have retained his parliamentary seat but the fact of the matter is that, he, as the chairman of BN, had lost the elections and to make it worse, it cannot be denied that the accusatory fingers are pointing his way as the main cause of Barisan Nasional’s defeat.

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The UMNO Flag

The defeat of BN and UMNO at the 14th general elections have several repercussions, some more severe than others, amongst which are :-

  • Dato’ Sri Najib, as the president of UMNO, has to shoulder the responsibility of defeat and therefore, honourably step aside from the mantle of president of UMNO, and in effect, from the chairmanship of Barisan Nasional (BN) as well. They say it never nice to hit a man when he is down but by stepping aside, Dato’ Sri Najib will do the only thing that he can do under the circumstances and in so doing, does it with honour.
  • UMNO can expect large numbers of its members having a change of heart and subsequently, in their allegiance vis-a-vis UMNO, as UMNO is no more in position to offer anything to its members. Especially those from the business-minded community. However, this expected development will be to UMNO’s advantage as it can then trim itself of fair-weathered members and as such, have a more committed party as compared to before.
  • The next five years til the next general elections GE15, will provide UMNO with the opportunity to re-invent itself. A return to the basics, as it were, where the idealism behind the formation of UMNO ie the philosophy of UMNO – what it means and what it entails, can take centre stage again. With the party elections due any time soon, it provides a very opportune moment for the party to regroup and transform itself.

In the meantime, it will be very interesting to look forward to the next few months and developments with respect to institutions and agencies like MARA, the Royal Malaysian Police, the Armed Forces, the Royal Malay Regiments, Tabung Haji, Permodalan Nasional, Khazanah Nasional, Telekom Malaysia, Petronas, PUNB, MACC, AG Chambers as well as to the different government organs eg the Finance, Trade, Home, Defence ministries, amongst others.

The dust may have settled on GE14 but how the future unfolds is still anyone’s guess.

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