COMMENTARY, Nov 12 — Racial politics seems to have taken a back seat in the Melaka state election as campaigning enters its fifth day.
As of now, the issue seems to be about the chief minister candidate which was the cause of the dissolution of the state assembly in the first place.
The fight is between two Malay-based parties to see who among them can put up a candidate accepted by the people in the state.
Even DAP which had seven of the 28 seats in the state before the dissolution has not touched on racial issues in its campaign.
The multiracial party is contesting eight seats alongside its partners Parti Amanah Neghara (Amanah) which is contesting nine seats and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) contesting 11 seats.
The two Malay-based parties — Umno which is leading Barisan Nasional (BN) and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) which leads Perikatan Nasional (PN) — are slugging it out on which party the Malays would choose to be its flag-bearer in the coming general election.
Blame it on the SOPs but this election is missing the usual political carnival of an election campaign.
Given such a scenario and the lack of enthusiasm among voters, there is talk that voter turnout may just be around 50 per cent or so.
Voting is expected to be among members and staunch supporters of the political parties contesting rather than the masses themselves.
This lack of interest is also probably due to an overdose of politics or simply because people think the general election is around the corner, or the issue could be a man-made one — a feud from within the party among the leaders which should not have happened in the first place.
However, for Umno and Bersatu, this election is of utmost importance to gauge their support and survival since both parties are out to prove their worth.
Bersatu has already clinched its first success by breaking PAS away from Umno which saw Muafakat Nasional (MN) being dissolved.
Bersatu’s second success is its ability to make inroads into the Umno bastion in Melaka where the former had none before the dissolution.
The election now enables Bersatu, with the help of PAS, to set up bases where it can open divisions and branches in the state.
On this score, Umno loses and the party may also lose out more in the next general election.
The worst scenario for Umno is not being able to form a state government on its own.