Its midnight of the 20th November 2021 and the Melaka state elections is now, for all sense and purpose, done and dusted. The result was as expected : a victory for the Barisan Nasional (BN). Led led by UMNO together with its political allies, the MCA and the MIC, the BN won 21 of the 28 state seats which made up the Melaka state assembly, thus regaining the state assembly that it lost after the last state elections in 2018.
With BN’s return to power, one may argue that normal service has been resumed. Well, at least in Melaka state that is. And whether you are on this side of the fence instead of the one across the political fence.
But for BN, the elections in the state of Melaka is another step towards redemption for what was that infamous day when BN lost its mandate to govern not only the country but also the different states making up the federation.
But for now, the countdown to the 15th general elections, GE15, and the quest to re-capture Putrajaya is just beginning. As any one who knows Malaysian politics can tell you, winning the state is one thing, winning the Parliament is another matter altogether.
But a long and winding the road to Putrajaya it maybe, it may not be that far off after all as GE15 may be held within the first half of 2022, so fragile is the current Parliament.
It is to be noted with interest that since the Melaka state elections were concluded, Sarawak too have had their state elections. However, the manner of how the Sarawak state elections came about was slightly different to that of Melaka, and even that to Sabah.
Sarawak was due to hold their 12th state elections in June 2021 but it was delayed due to a state of emergency proclaimed by His Majesty The Yang Di Pertuan Agong. on the advice of the then Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Mahiaddin Yassin. The proclamation was attributed to the ongoing efforts to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control as well as to avoid the after-effects of holding an election during the outbreak, as witnessed when Sabah held their state elections back in 2020.
But upon the proclamation being rescinded on 3 November 2021, the state assembly was simultaneously and automatically declared dissolved, with the 12th state elections announced for 18 December 2021.
It has always been interesting to note that the Sarawak state elections have always been slightly different from that held elsewhere in the country, notably for the absence of UMNO from the Sarawak political landscape.
It is a political landscape where BN WAS represented by the Sarawak-based political parties, but who are now grouped under the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), a coalition led by the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera (PBB) and for many who are familiar with the political scene is Sarawak, PBB is regarded as the dominant political party in Sarawak as was UMNO elsewhere in the country prior to the 2018 general elections, GE14.
So dominant were these Sarawak-based political parties that the confusion and mayhem that ensued at the conclusion of GE14 barely caused a ripple in the state. Instead, it brought about the grouping that is the GPS, ensuring Sarawak’s continued political stability.
So dominant is the GPS that when a member of Bersatu, a party wanting to take the place of UMNO in the national political landscape, submitted his papers to contest the state elections as an Independent, a statement from GPS noting the submission of the nomination papers was enough to make Bersatu and the Bersatu member to issue a statement withdrawing his candidacy. Forthwith.
Not that we are supposed to read anything more to the statement than what is drafted for.
Sarawakians went to the polls to elect their 82 members of the state legislative assembly, and as expected, GPS was triumphant. What was not expected was the scale of the victory, with 76 seats secured and the other 6 seats going to two other parties, thus cementing GPS’ position as the dominant player in the Sarawak political landscape.
After Sarawak, it is now the turn of the state of Johor. A sizeable state, it is located in the southern part of the Peninsular. The state government was initially headed by the Bersatu-led Pakatan Harapan (PH) but has since changed Menteri Besar three times since the conclusion of the last state elections in 2018.
The state government was headed by an elected representative of Bersatu twice before the infamous Sheraton Move led to an UMNO state assemblyman being appointed to lead the state administration as the Menteri Besar.
With the state assembly almost evenly divided between the former PH state government and the current state government led by UMNO, the scene was set for a period of uncertainty. After all, with a majority of two, its obvious to everyone that political stability is not a phrase one would look up for its meaning.
Previous reports of tensions between Bersatu and UMNO have not gone unnoticed and true to form, these tensions flared up again. The place : Melaka, the event : campaigning for state elections ; the cause : UMNO’s decision to go it alone within BN to contest the state elections.
To all, UMNO’s decision to go it alone was not something unexpected as UMNO has, on many occasions stated the its political decisions vis-a-vis Bersatu and for that matter, with any other political party shall be guided by the party’s delegates during their conference in 2020 ie whatever political cooperation with Bersatu in an effort to stabilise the federal government shall only last til GE15 is called.
After all, the lessons from Sabah have been learnt and learnt well. Never mind those who jumped ships in 2018.
As it is, the passing of the former Menteri Besar who was from Bersatu left the state assembly almost hung with a wafer-thin majority of one, thus leaving the state government with no choice but to seek for an earlier dissolution of the state assembly. Even if the ‘button’ so mentioned by the president of Bersatu, Tan Sri Mahiaddin Yassin, himself a former Menteri Besar of Johor as well as the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, has yet to be ‘pressed’.
Its Johor’s turn now for the electorate to decide who it shall award the mandate to. As it is, the decree to dissolve the state assembly was signed by His Majesty, The Sultan of Johor on the 15th of January 2022 and with it, the mandate goes back to the people to elect the 56 members of the Johor state assembly.
It goes without saying that the UMNO-led BN is expected to regain control of the state as it was expected to regain Melaka. The question is, will political stability be restored to the state or will the state go through another five years of political instability and stunted economic development.
Just when the electorate has to decide will be decided on 9 February 2022 when the Elections Commission convene. Til then, the people of Johor will have to put up with political instability for just a little while longer.
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