JUNE 3 — The rule of thumb in Malaysia is that election swings go in cycles of two to three terms. It used to be a swing from tremendous support for BN to a series of lacklustre changes of tides insufficient to tip the balance of power. The term of reference was, and still is a “government to opposition” swing, with BN as government and all else as opposition. This has been the case since Independence, and despite a 52 per cent popular vote to “the opposition” in GE13, PR remains to be just that.
Let’s be frank about it, we are now entering the run-up to the fourteenth general election. Circumstances have changed dramatically over the decades, and the Malaysian people’s maturity and appetite for a different politics have evolved overwhelmingly. The current realities dictate that the electoral landscape is no longer a straight fight between Barisan Nasional vs Pakatan Rakyat.
There is no better time than now to set the correct agenda, and to reconfigure the terms of reference.
It is not a change of tide; but political “tectonic realignment”.
Make no mistake; I am by no means of the view that the tides are changing back towards support for BN; far from it, and I think BN knows that as well as we do. But reality is that PR, previously the sole viable option, is also compromised as a result of certain quarters’ divergence of support from the fundamental tenets of our beloved nation, namely the Federal Constitution.
Whilst spats and disagreements ensue between titans inter and intra coalition, and understandably so, the Malaysian people continue to suffer the consequences BN’s policies. I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. Only with a conflict of ideas, that those ideas are tested; only with contestation will differences arise and be resolved, and so too will common grounds be exposed.
Where there is a collapse of a weak and flawed structure, therein lies the opportunity to build a different and better structure. We now see before us, the beginning of the end of the current political structure. BN and their proxies are trying to stop the inevitable quake; the “grand coalition” is a roadmap for the post-collapse rebuilding.
The next GE will have a completely different term of reference. The term of reference is grounded upon the audience’s understanding of the matter at hand. The past discourse of “old” vs “new”, “angel known” vs “devil unknown”, however apt it may be, is no longer relevant. Instead of a change of tide, I see it as a political tectonic shift that will culminate an almost unrecognisable political landscape. We must now start framing the electorate’s understanding of the realities ahead.
A battle of ideals and ideas
Providing that the abovementioned is correct; the next GE will be an unprecedentedly different race.
For voters, it will be an election to choose between electing those committed to Save Malaysia and defend the Federal Constitution and the rule of law; or electing those who still plays to the gallery with racial and communal sentiments that stagnates and even reverses the progress of nation building.
For workers, it will be a choice between a new politics that represents a future where the economy works for the people, versus the status quo where the workers work for an economy that exploits them to enrich a select few.
It will be a contestation between politicians who run the country like they run an exploitative private business to line their own coffers; and politicians who will govern the nation by transparency, principles, conviction and good governance to enrich, empower and engender the Malaysian People.
Malaysians will pick between a society that is dictated and shaped top-down by the ruling elite, on their terms and to their agenda and advantages; or a bottom-up society that shapes itself in accordance to the potentials, plurality, liberty that the state will promote.
It will be about protecting the current national narrative that is increasingly divisive and exclusive in accordance to race, religion and destructive labelling; or ushering in the founding fathers’ dream of an inclusive, socially just Malaysia that speaks not of mere toleration of “the other among us”, but embracing and celebrating all things Malaysian as our joint culture, heritage and identity.
Ultimately, it’s a decision between running around in the same battleground patching wounds on the right leg whilst allowing fresh wounds be sustained on the left; or to reimagine an alternative of infinite possibilities.
It is about choosing a future that refuses to march on forward with time, or a future of progress to realise a truly Malaysian Malaysia.
A Malaysian Solution
What has been proposed by DAP Parliamentary Leader Sdr Lim Kit Siang of a post-BN and post-PR Save Malaysia grand coalition is nothing short of visionary. At a time of stalemate between two options that are both consuming themselves in bitterness and contradictions whilst Malaysia is in unprecedented crisis; the Malaysian people’s hunger for truly and uncompromisingly Malaysian solution is answered therein.
I, as an elected lawmaker, a social democrat, and a political activist, as well as all of us as Malaysians need to be bold in facing the challenges and prospects ahead. The proposal of a post-BN and post-PR Save Malaysia grand coalition is the only Malaysian option that has been brought to the table and it is what Malaysia needs right now, and I as a member of DAP will fight for just that, because that’s what Malaysia needs us to do right now.
With this unforeseen yet unprecedented vision of a Grand coalition, this coming election, may just be the game-changing paradigm shift that transitions Malaysian elections from a “swings from BN to the Opposition” to “swings from divisive politics of the past to progressive politics of the future”.
* Howard Lee is the Director of Policy for DAP Perak and runs a Perak-based think tank named PROSPECT focusing on State-level governance policies with an emphasis on public engagement. He is also the executive secretary to DAP Malaysia’s Bureau of International Affairs. His dream is to bring political nerdiness into the mainstream and to turn it cool.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or the organisation and does not necessarily represent the view of the Malay Mail Online.