Name GE14 candidates soon to avoid Sarawak boo-boo

MAY 21 — Pakatan Harapan should reveal their line-up of candidates who will contest in the 222 parliamentary and 505 state constituencies in three months’ time to ensure straight fights in the 14th general elections. 

In that way, there will be no repeat of the blunder in Sarawak which has led to many labelling the opposition coalition as the latest comic in town. 

As a result of adopting the “11th hour” negotiations route, there wasn’t sufficient time for DAP and PKR to agree on who contests where leading to both parties butting heads in six seats, according to PKR Deputy President Datuk Seri Azmin Ali.  

That is because both parties opted to keep the cards close to their chests before announcing candidates on nomination day in Sarawak. 

By laying all the cards on the table in three months, this can be negated and will no longer be an issue parties will have to grapple with. 

What’s more, candidates named in the next three months will have ample time to iron out the wrinkles with other parties, familiarise themselves with constituents, map out their campaign and focus on getting a clear message across to the electorate. 

More importantly, negotiations will not drag till the final moments with a risk of talks remaining unresolved between coalition partners. 

This did not happen in Sarawak. 

Voters in Sarawak did not know who was going to be in the ring right till nomination time. 

That led to a disassociation between candidates and voters which led to a largely disjointed campaign.

In fact, there is no advantage in waiting seconds before the bell is rung to name candidates for elections. 

While the thought behind this is to keep the ruling government guessing, it can end up having a disastrous effect in an election, like it did to the opposition’s campaign in Sarawak. 

Instead of presenting how candidates could be different to their opponents, lots of time was spent trying to explain to voters the reasons which led to the multi-cornered fights.  

Arguably, the six-seat-contestatmbetween DAP and PKR in Sarawak actually angered more people in Peninsular Malaysia than voters in Sarawak simply because the opposition coalition has a more solid presence here. 

Despite the state elections being over, the talk of the town in Semenanjung still revolves around whether the coalition can remain intact in the lead-up to the 14th general elections. 

Some quarters may argue that crunch time will come sooner in the form of two by-elections in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar after two MPs lost their lives in a helicopter crash in Sarawak. 

However, those two elections will not change the dynamics of Malaysia’s political scene. 

Pakatan Harapan’s focus should be on GE14. 

Mistakes were made in Sarawak, lessons have to be learnt, higher principles have to be adhered to. 

“All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes,” Winston Churchill said. 

We should be spending more time addressing the basic challenges faced by people, and on policy-making. Not fighting about who contests where and the fall-outs from multi-cornered clashes.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.