The unnecessary merry-go-round that leads PH back to square one


Wait. What!?

18 Oct 2022 09:00am
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Wait. What!? – A column about double takes on peculiar matters in Malaysia.

GOSH. Electoral nominations haven't even started and yet the confusing political merry-go-round has – almost on cue – already begun.

After days of rocking back and forth, DAP finally had to bite the bullet of not dissolving the Penang state assembly.

Party secretary-general Anthony Loke admitted that the decision would be disappointing but, alas, Pakatan Harapan (PH) can ill afford to make a roundabout in this election season.

“It will be interpreted as a breaking of ranks, that PH is divided. This can be used as a weapon by our enemies to show that PH is disunited and cannot make collective decision,” he said at a press conference last Saturday.

Indeed. Loke was right.

By now, any sober politician would have known that when it comes to credibility every party is skating on thin ice.

For PH, it was more so following the infamous “manifestos are not bible” remark that was spoken mere three months after PH won GE14 and form government on May 9, 2018.

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But this knot over the dissolving of the Penang state assembly that PH had gotten itself entangled with was, unwittingly, of their own doing.

It all began with PH chairman, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s October 5 warning shot to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob done against the backdrop of the then-inevitable talk of parliamentary dissolution.

In a presumable attempt to caution Ismail Sabri from caving in to Umno’s “selfish demands” and to also play to the gallery in objecting a monsoonal national poll, Anwar announced that the PH-governed states; Penang, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan will only do state-level elections next year.

To those unfamiliar, under normal circumstances it is customary for state elections to be held in tandem with general elections but in the case of GE15, only Perlis, Pahang and Perak will be doing so.

This is so because Sabah, Sarawak, Melaka and Johor already did theirs throughout 2020 till 2022 and as for the Pas-led Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu the party too decided to take a page from PH’s book.

However, what made PH’s decisions – which Anwar announced after chairing the coalition’s presidential council meeting with the three head of state governments – seemed rather peculiar were the ensuing glimpse of cold-feet post October 5.

For example, in a press conference on October 12, Anwar retorted that, apparently, PH now needed more time “to look into it” stressing that while they were bound by the previous decision, the matter still needed to be thoroughly discussed.

“PH central leadership will give ample time for the respective state leadership to weigh on the need to conduct state-level elections simultaneously with GE15. This is a huge issue. The parties’ leadership need to discuss it first,” Anwar said.

Wait. What!? So, PH announced its decision first and only then afterwards did the coalition saw the need to thoroughly discuss about the decision it had already publicised? Oh my. What a funny way to decide on things.

Nevertheless, whatever sudden apprehension that the coalition may have over its initial decision was perhaps not without merit.

Maybe some in the coalition – especially those of DAP – saw how dangerous the three PH-led states will be in if state polls were to be held after GE15, especially if Barisan Nasional managed to reclaim Putrajaya.

One could only imagine how concerted BN’s political siege would be given how it can then have its machinery focused entirely on its state poll candidates without having to divvy up resources to support its parliamentary counterparts.

But of course, this scenario can only happen if BN wins GE15.

Can PH pull off another miracle like it did in GE14? Who knows?

And maybe for some – who have survived the two-year viral pandemic coupled with the ceaseless episodes of backbiting intrigues which led to the tumultuous collapses of two governments – who cares?

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