May 9: One year after Pakatan’s historic win, how are we feeling right now?

Artists work on a mural depicting the faces of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Sepang. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Artists work on a mural depicting the faces of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Sepang. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, May 9 — The morning of May 10 last year brought with it many different emotions; euphoria if you had rooted for Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) unprecedented victory or dejection over Barisan Nasional’s (BN) gigantic loss.

For the anniversary of the 14th general elections (GE14), Malay Mail asked voters what they felt on that day and how those feelings have changed (or not)... a year on.

Over a week in April, we spoke to 94 voters who cast their votes in various Parliamentary and state seats across the country, but mostly in the Klang Valley, Perak, Penang, Johor and Sabah. Two-thirds of them said they had voted for PH.

Here, their feelings in their own words:

Supporters of Pakatan Harapan gather in front of Istana Negara in anticipation of the swearing-in ceremony of Tun Dr Mahathir as the new prime minister, May 10, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak
Supporters of Pakatan Harapan gather in front of Istana Negara in anticipation of the swearing-in ceremony of Tun Dr Mahathir as the new prime minister, May 10, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

How are PH voters feeling?

1. Honoured to be part of history, but euphoria fading fast

PH’s victory served as a personal vindication for its supporters who shared in the joy of unseating BN for the first time. But the initial jubilation is fading fast just after one year.

Question: How did you feel right after PH won GE14, and how does that compare one year later?

“I was very happy. Waited until midnight for the final result. PH still needs time to change policies. We have to be realistic. At least now there are no stupid MPs or ministers who shoot their mouths off. Minorities also have more say now.” — WC Chan, 45, regional manager who voted in Ipoh Barat.

“The feeling was good. I remember seeing all Malaysians persevere through the GE14, under the hot sun to vote, and it looked as if they voted for PH... for change. But now trust level has dropped although I still have hope that things will change faster moving forward.” — Annie, 58, manager who voted in Subang.

“Mostly tired because I was waiting late for results which came out so late but I was relieved because we were craving change and a sense of optimism. But now my optimism is gone. More realistic view but I feel better than most. I still have a job and I’m not in any trouble.” — Natalie Vitalis, 31, accounting assistant who voted in Penampang.

“I really jumped high out of my seat I’m happy there’s a change in government. There’s not much change but it’s still new. Changes need money, effort, experienced ministers and time. Now the federal government is cutting cost a lot.” — Aaron Lim, 39, baker who voted in Sandakan.

Pakatan Harapan supporters gather in Padang Timur to see Anwar Ibrahim in public after he was released from the prison. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Pakatan Harapan supporters gather in Padang Timur to see Anwar Ibrahim in public after he was released from the prison. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

2. PH needs more time to sort mess left behind by BN

A majority of respondents were dissatisfied with the apparent U-turns by the PH government, but they were also more forgiving with the fact that only one year has passed. Most are hopeful and positive that PH will turn things around.

Question: Are you satisfied with the PH government's performance?

"I was excited for the first few months but now it has died down a little because of so many awkward statements and initiatives coming from the government. Several lingering issues such as broken pledges and slowdown in the economy are quite worrisome.” — Alvie, 29, insurance agent who voted in Segambut.

“We voted Pakatan because we wanted a truly 1Malaysia — whether you are Chinese, Malay or Indian. But they still were not able to do this thing. There's no difference. Some of them, when you were our representative last time, you were able to voice out [the people's issues]. But now not anymore. You don't say anything. Whatever things other people say, you will just follow.” — Lim, 29, sales representative who voted in Port Dickson.

“I would say that I am satisfied to see PH performing so far, but I know they should handle certain issues such as the rising cost of living and certain concerns raised by the Malay community carefully. They just should make it clear that they want to protect the interests of the Malay community just as well as that of other communities.” — Rahim Abu Bakar, 37, factory worker who voted in Selayang.

“They have been doing good in the past year. They should keep up the momentum. It seems Tun Mahathir should be given the full term to steer the country. Any change now seems very disruptive.” — Radzi, 41, self-employed who voted in Titiwangsa.

A trader at the Taman Tun Dr Ismail market donates to Tabung Harapan Malaysia June 12, 2018. — Picture by Ham Abu Bakar
A trader at the Taman Tun Dr Ismail market donates to Tabung Harapan Malaysia June 12, 2018. — Picture by Ham Abu Bakar

3. Country stuck in a rut if BN had won

Those who voted for PH were certain that the country would have fared worse if BN had won, leading them to put their support behind PH in GE14.

Question: Do you think the country would have been better if you had voted for BN?

“No. Because the alternative is worse. We wouldn’t have been privy to all the scale of the corruption if we didn’t overthrow the previous regime.” — Sean, 38, copywriter who voted in Bukit Bintang.

“It is better to let PH run the show. They are still doing fine so far. BN has done some good, no doubt but it does not make sense for them to continue with so many financial scandals and trust deficit they are facing.” — Leong, 28, restaurant owner who voted in Kuala Selangor.

“If we let BN win this time around, then we could be saddled with more debt and corruption. It’s better for the time being to let PH do their work. I still have confidence in PH to govern the country.” — Mohd Mohsin, 44, car salesman who voted in Sg Buloh.

“No, BN had also promised but never delivered, they use it as bait. When we changed government, it is a good thing for them to reflect. At the end of the term maybe they can promise something better.” — Jason Delgado, 40, graphic designer who voted in Papar.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (centre) and other Pakatan Harapan leaders raise their hand after a press conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Petaling Jaya.  — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (centre) and other Pakatan Harapan leaders raise their hand after a press conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Petaling Jaya. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

4. No guarantee PH will get same votes come GE15

Compared to the loyalty of BN voters, there is no guarantee that those who voted for PH would still vote the same in GE15. Some also said that in hindsight, they may not even have voted for PH if they had known of the consequences.

Question: Will you still vote for PH, after seeing what happened after one year?

“No. They failed to deliver on their promise. They make a mockery of their own manifesto.” — Hidayah, 31, private sector worker who voted in Lumut.

“No. Very bad. More U-turns than positive policies. Not much changes for the [bottom 40 per cent households].” — OL How, 31, administrator who voted in Ipoh Barat.

“I would vote for them but I would also vote for another party if they show their calibre. For example, if Khairy Jamaluddin runs Umno and if they’re honest, I might consider. For the betterment of Malaysia and its people.” — Ahmad Azri, 26, freelancer who voted in Gombak.

“Yes. We needed a change. The old government was taking things for granted.” — Mohd Samlan, 49, businessman who voted in Semporna.

“Yes, because change was necessary. Same old dogs in the government for 60 years, too long, need new blood and ideas, some were not working but it was the same. They were complacent, big headed and racists.” — Sagunip Sintil, 38, small business owner who voted in Putatan.

Members of the public gather around a white Vellfire as the vehicle enters the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang Jaya May 12, 2018. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Members of the public gather around a white Vellfire as the vehicle enters the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang Jaya May 12, 2018. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

How are BN voters feeling?

1. Shocked, but resigned as wrongdoings came into light

BN’s GE14 loss after six decades, understandably, initially came as a shock. Some respondents also said that while they were ready to concede that PH may win some states, they had not expected PH to grab Putrajaya.

Question: How did you feel right after BN lost GE14, and how does that compare one year later?

“A little bit shocked. I mean, it’s never happened before in Malaysia. I wasn’t upset or angry though. I was just hoping whoever won would do good.” — Maimoon Salli, 65, market trader who voted in Kota Marudu.

“I was taken aback because I was sure that PH’s best chance to win the GE is actually back in 2013. So, for PH to actually win quite convincingly was something that I didn’t see coming at all.” — Ahmad Nazwan Nazrullah, 32, freight transport consultant who voted in Pulai.

“Okay, normal only. It was only later that I realised BN lost for the first time and what a big deal it was To be honest, not much in my life has changed. I don’t think I was that invested but my family has always voted BN.” — Shamin Syah, 25, shop worker who voted in Batu Sapi.

“I thought they would lose seats but not lose GE14. It was a close contest and In the end I'm not surprised BN lost. There were lots of mismanagement.” — Zamri, 42, businessman who voted in Ampang.

“I think it's for the best. So much dirt came out after PH won.” — Maya, 45, private tutor who voted in Kuala Selangor.

A sign announcing the zero-rated GST change is seen at a supermarket. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
A sign announcing the zero-rated GST change is seen at a supermarket. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

2. Raging disappointment over failed promises, rising pinch in economy

While most criticism levelled against PH focused on their failure to fulfill their manifesto pledges, the most impactful ones were complaints about the rising cost of living and the cutdown of financial aid compared to the relatively lavish offerings by BN.

Question: Are you satisfied with the PH govt's performance after one year?

“Not really. We don't get the BR1M money so some kampung folks aren't happy.” — Ruslan, 53, housewife who voted in Jelai, Pahang.

“I don't feel anything, just like a lot of things being cheated. They can't fulfill their promises. They want to abolish GST, but now new SST come. Things are getting more expensive. Food prices going up. Restaurant charging higher prices.” — Sara, 42, office executive who voted in Petaling Jaya.

“No. Some of the ministers talk rubbish. They are supposed to be Malaysia Baharu but some of the PH ministers still talk about race. I am also unhappy with the quota for matriculation intake.” — V. Sreedaran Nair, 55, lawyer who voted in Tambun.

“What good has been done [by the PH government]? Everything has gotten more expensive Not only are necessity goods more expensive now, even [cost of doing business] has gone up.” — Shamsuddin Mokhsin, 51, trader who voted in Semenyih.

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak waves at the media as arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex July 4, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak waves at the media as arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex July 4, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

3. Status quo would have been better, but Najib must go

BN voters conceded that every administration has its own flaws, but the former ruling coalition’s vast experience in governing would have benefited the country better than the greenhorn PH. What was clear however, nobody wished for scandal-plagued Datuk Seri Najib Razak to be at the helm.

Question: Do you think BN would do a better job than PH if it had won?

“Yes. Under BN, Malaysia had ambition but now it seems we are losing ground with other countries because our ‘leaders’ could not get their act together.” — Jamal Hassan, 33, gaming outlet manager who voted in Johor Baru.

“BN is actually quite good They know what’s going on, can roll out programmes to stimulate the economy. They have years of experience so they are better able to manage. The RM1 trillion debt is not true. All these 1MDB allegations against Najib are not true. Even if there are corrupt BN leaders, I’m sure there are corrupt PH leaders too.” — Peter Oh, 51, manager who voted in Bukit Bendera.

“They have done a lot of good for the country and they should be given the chance to continue their work. But I agree with people that BN should have addressed national issues like 1MDB and other scandals better. People only see the bad but failed to see that BN has practically developed the nation.” — Noor Halimatun, 59, hawker who voted in Tanjong Karang.

“The reason I vote for BN is because I was heavily invested in the stock market. I am sure all the business people especially in the construction sector also the same. PH won, all of them are in trouble. The contractors and workers.” — WK, 45, entrepreneur who voted in Damansara.

“It will still be the same. Before winning an election, BN would promise anything, but when they have won, things remain the same. BN is okay, with the exception of just that one leader.” — Nina, 54, housewife who voted in Semenyih.

Investigators lift sealed boxes believed to contain luxury designer bags onto a Black Maria outside Pavilion Residences in Kuala Lumpur May 18, 2018. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Investigators lift sealed boxes believed to contain luxury designer bags onto a Black Maria outside Pavilion Residences in Kuala Lumpur May 18, 2018. — Picture by Hari Anggara

4. BN deserves a second chance

There are some BN voters wary of ever choosing BN again, or at least it would depend on their choice of candidates. But by and large, most of them would still vote for BN again in a heartbeat — dismissing PH’s win as mere fluke.

Question: Will you still vote for BN, after the things revealed since PH won?

“A lot has changed since GE14 but if given the opportunity, I would vote for BN again. Parties like Umno and PAS have learned a lot since GE14. I feel they need to work together to ensure that there is strong opposition to PH.'' — Hafifi, 28, entrepreneur who voted in Sungai Besar.

“Yes, I will still vote for BN to give them a new chance again to see whether BN can lead a better Malaysia with their new target and new promises after PH won GE14.” — Tan Zhi Qing, 23, student who voted in Jementah.

“Yes. Economy was not this bad during BN administration. I feel PH was just creating issues to win GE14.” — SM Chai, 46, private sector worker who voted in Ipoh Barat.

“BN here is no more though, so I don’t know what to think about that. But I think if things don’t improve drastically in the next few years, PH won’t win again.” — Harris Benedict, 54, businessman who voted in Kota Belud.