Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat

Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country, and this world.

— Sharon Salzberg, bestselling author

Rising from ashes, the phoenix symbolises resurrection and life after death.

With a great sigh of relief, this is what the members and supporters of the Barisan National (BN) must have felt after the results of the Melaka state elections on Nov 20.

BN had taken Melaka. Umno won 18 seats, gaining an additional five seats from its previous 13.

Their partners, MCA took two seats and MIC one seat. This must have been a satisfying day for them considering they were wiped out in 2018 in Melaka.

This brought BN’s winning total to 21 of the 28 seats, giving them a two-thirds majority in the Melaka State Assembly. BN now has a clear mandate to manage Melaka without compromising or the need to align themselves with other coalitions or political parties.

BN’s rival coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) won only five seats (DAP won four and Amanah, one) while, I am sure shockingly for PKR, it lost all the 11 seats it contested. The other coalition Perikatan Nasional (PN) won only two seats.

The GE14 result had dealt a huge blow to BN that saw it losing power after 61 years in government. Another subsequent blow was that it had at one time 14 component political parties under its umbrella at its height.

After GE14, over some time, the majority of the component political parties left BN and now they have only four component parties with them. Let’s see if any of them will come back knocking on their door.

Other than being part of the government, I am certain GPS will not go under the BN umbrella again, as its current status allows it a significantly greater degree of political autonomy compared to before.

In the meantime, BN’s resounding victory brings a timely boost to the morale of all its members and will spur it on towards their next contest.

The question now is whether the BN victory will translate to the latest sentiments of the electorate in the rest of Malaya and Sabah in the next parliamentary polls.

If support for BN is back, it will make sense for them to have GE15 soon to grab the opportunity to replicate results across Malaysia to capitalise on its victory in Melaka.

There are of course several other variables across Malaysia at play that would have to be considered such as Undi 18 and AVR.
One perceived hurdle to call the elections soon could be the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Transformation and Political Stability signed between the government and PH on Sept 13, 2021.

One of the key aspects of this MoU states that the dissolution of Parliament leading to GE15 would not be pursued until July 31, 2022, for the purpose of political stability.

However, if BN smells victory, moves could be made soon to find ways to set aside the MoU via some perceived justified reason.
This is a high possibility, especially considering that in politics, the prime driver is getting into power to rule.

In this case, if the electoral projections indicate that BN can form a new government without being dependent on other political parties, the motivation to dissolve Parliament would indeed be very high.

Other considerations to decide if parliament were to dissolve would be to deny the other non-BN political parties the opportunity to re-strategise their next electoral campaign.

Just as an example, the possibility of Mohd Rafizi Ramli and Nurul Izzah Anwar helming a revamped PKR could make it more attractive to voters.

Having suffered such a crushing defeat, the losing parties will surely need time to come up with new plans and new approaches to win. Denying them this opportunity could benefit BN.

In my opinion, there is a slim possibility of GE15 being held in December this year together with PRN12 in Sarawak. However, it could be more probable by February or March of 2022, despite the MoU on Transformation and Political Stability.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg has opined that the people in Melaka wanted a stable government.
Therefore, in the coming Sarawak PRN12, it would be wise for the electorate in Sarawak to savour the current stability and peace, and vote next month.

Ultimately, peace and stability are what we need as a platform to keep progressing and growing.

The views expressed are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.