OCTOBER 13 — Here we go again! Before it gets washed out like a test cricket match.
To those already inundated with election news, today is about bare minimums. Phew. No point going ballistic in Week One of this fascinating race, not quite a marathon, probably a 10,000m race.
Key pointers for voters, old and new, for the warmup. (Candidate, party and coalition speculations and races to watch later.)
The Election Commission (EC) meets on October 20, and will announce both nomination and polling days.
Two points of reference, firstly recent examples. In 2018, dissolution on April 7 was followed by polls 31 days later on May 9. Five years prior in 2013, Parliament went home on April 3 and elections occurred on May 5 — also thirty-one days.
By that dictate, 31 days after the October 10 dissolution is November 11. Which leans us to November 12, a Saturday — far better as a holiday across the federation.
Though a November election dredges up memories of 1999, when prime minister and finance minister Mahathir Mohamad called it. In that unconventional edition, it was 18 days from dissolution on November 11 to rushed polls on November 29. Spoiler alert, he won.
Ten days down by October 20, it's impossible the cycle mirrors 1999 — rushed on the pretext of the approaching fasting month. In vogue now is to do it before it pours down, though it pours for fun these days.
Nomination Day looks spot on for the week after Deepavali, October 24, therefore Sunday, October 30. Pundits pray, the candidate list is not a horror show in line with Halloween. Though most of the usual suspects are age appropriate to play Vincent Price.
One week too short, therefore two weeks would be about right. Umno lost the last time a midweek — presumably the first and last — election was held. Suffice to say, they’d settle for the above mentioned Saturday, November 12 — 31 days after dissolution.
Two slips or one, the state elections
It’s unprecedented for Semenanjung states to not coincide federal and state elections, but these are not normal times. It’s been super-surreal since 2020.
State polls since the Pakatan Harapan federal collapse: Sabah (September 2020), Melaka (November 2021), Sarawak (December 2021) and Johor (March 2022). They carry on.
BN-Umno states of Perlis, Perak and Pahang to follow the federal lead and PM advice — elections!
Pakatan states, here it gets tricky. PKR-run Selangor and Negri Sembilan have dug in and said no. DAP wants to toe the line but cognisant a state win is a low bar. Therefore rather settle both state and federal polls together. DAP will likely get its way.
PAS is the epitome of randomness — partially its brand-recognition. This Saturday they’ll inform the country if Perlis, Kedah and Kelantan get state elections too. The betting money would be a YES, but they prefer to announce two days on.
Verdict, state elections in Negeri Sembilan and Selangor in 2023. The other seven states to hold both.
Prime minister candidates
The odds are stacked against Ismail Sabri Yaakob continuing on as prime minister regardless of a BN-Umno triumph. BN chairman is Zahid Hamidi.
For the last four years, the historical overlap of Umno president as prime minister was dislocated. It is Zahid’s call, and it is clearer by the day he’d dispense with surrogates and reconcile the two roles. Which assists substantially his position at the party polls to follow.
Pakatan will — after “perennial discussions” — announce Anwar Ibrahim’s — and probably last — spearhead of the coalition. Even the bravest of pundits struggle to back his chances.
As per the last four state elections, it would be a flurry of discussions, and then continued discussions to Nomination Day. With the adequate amount of recriminations to damage the coalition’s own chances.
Ex-PM Muhyiddin Yassin — if he retains Johor’s Pagoh — is the rank outsider with Perikatan Nasional (PN). PAS after a public rebuke from Umno must sense the ummah stratagem was a Trojan Horse from the past master.
Still, without reason, they cling to hope and a change of heart from Zahid. BN-Umno are quite happy to drag out the matter and derail PN’s build-up. Bersatu as ever needs PAS more than the other way around and must prance around to the non-dance music from the religious party.
How two years can rework the script! From the initial bluster to teach Malaya how to lead multiculturalism, Warisan has lost state, shape and purpose when it comes to politics outside Sabah.
Shafie Apdal’s pretensions have all but collapsed. In 1965, Singapore’s People’s Action Party (PAP) encroached into Malaya and won Bangsar only. Warisan 2022 will end up with one less seat than PAP in Malaya.
Almost a political footnote, Mahathir Mohamad stands in the shadows. Hold back the guffaws for a bit.
From two-time prime minister to leader of a coalition of who cares. Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra), Barisan Jemaah Islamiah Se-Malaysia (Berjasa) and Parti Perikatan India Muslim Nasional (Iman) sidle up to his Pejuang to form Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA).
Mahathir’s party is the reason PKR is not at the bottom of the party achievements table in the last year. Pejuang fielded 44 candidates in Johor and lost its deposit convincingly in each contest, barely crossing three digits everywhere.
It probably defies electoral math but GTA could fare even worse with allies. Desperation is measured by who we are willing to lower down to ally with.
As it stands, Mahathir is the only viable candidate to win in Langkawi. The only possible means to glory? In the mad, mad possibility of an impasse on election night — never say never — a nation turns to Mahathir to bring order from chaos.
The more probable outcome is the 97-year-old sits alone in the Opposition bench.
As a public service announcement, the column would like to clarify for anyone still unsure, all of those above 18 are automatically registered voters. Those who just turned 18 might look out for updates from EC, but this is the election with the largest surge of voters. From almost 15 million voters in 2018 to 21 million — up by 40 per cent — this coming November.
In common parlance, whatever was derived from previous data about voters can be chucked from the top of Warisan 118's yet to be completed skyscraper.
The ability to draw participation from the disinterested is the challenge for all coalitions.
If the rumblings and rants of the previous three days are any indicators, hardly any of the competitors have had a software upgrade. They probably get monumental traction with a 30-second TikTok video than with a yawn-filled 13-minute diatribe as the leader of Opposition released on dissolution day.
In fear of the monsoon season, all involved would bring out the worst of their nature in a rushed campaign frenzy. Pro-tip, stock up on medicines.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.