GE15 Roundup: On close fights, death and mountains of promises

GE15 weekly roundup
It’s election season! To help you keep track of GE15 (and of your sanity!), BTL will be rounding up and distilling key election and post-election news, issues and insights, along with all the thrills, spills and tantrums, every week.

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Polling day’s TOMORROW! It’s going down to the wire, and observers claim no one’s got an edge. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the polls will be a washout.

Elsewhere in the final GE15 roundup before D-Day, a death in Padang Serai causes heartbreak and confusion; it’s been flooding promises, but which ones matter?; we spotlight some¬†mucho importante¬†must-reads; and, are you clued in on all the ballot-casting rules?

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Hanging in the balance


First, there were rumours of Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and his former cikgu Anwar Ibrahim canoodling (not literally lah!) with an eye on a Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) post-polls pact. Then, this week, allegations surfaced of BN and Perikatan Nasional (PN) discussing getting all close and cosy.

There was also all that attention on Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), which has continued to be¬†wishy-washy¬†about who it’s prepared to jump into bed with after GE15.

So what’s with the persistent rumours of illicit hook-ups?

Well, IF pollsters and analysts are right, it’s ‘cos we could be looking at a hung Parliament.

A hung what now?

In a nutshell, a hung Parliament occurs when no one side has won enough seats to obtain a simple majority, i.e. 112 outta 222 seats in the Dewan Rakyat.

And if that comes to pass, expect a whole load of romancing after ballots are counted as the various sides quickly try and forge alliances and settle on a prime minister candidate.

FYI, there’re no clear rules on what’s supposed to happen in the event of a hung Parli. But¬†precedents and conventions from the UK¬†exist, and we may well look that a way, seeing as how our parliamentary system is based on Westminster’s.

This and this pieces break down the problem and solutions in detail. But tl;dr, any of the below scenarios is possible:

  • Caretaker PM Izzy Sabri getting 1st dibs and the right to form a gomen by cobbling together an alliance.¬†
  • The leader of the party/coalition with the most seats being allowed to do the same.
  • A minority gomen, headed by the person whose party/coalition has the most seats, assuming power.
  • Fresh polls being called.

Note that alliances with rivals and/or parties/coalitions switching allegiances¬†don’t violate¬†our shiny new anti-hopping law. But expect the same sorta instability (and¬†deals being struck in hotels) if we don’t get an outright winner tomorrow.

Note that alliances with rivals and/or parties/coalitions switching allegiances don't violate our shiny new anti-hopping law."

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RIP good sir

Tragedy struck when PH incumbent/Padang Serai candidate M. Karupaiya died suddenly.

And while many are still reeling from the news, this has raised the uncomfortable question of what will happen to the Kedah parliamentary seat contest come polling day.

Tl;dr, will polls for that particular seat go on, or will it be postponed?

The Election Commission (EC) has yet to make an official announcement ‚ÄĒ its peeps are¬†meeting today¬†‚ÄĒ BUT some news orgs (see¬†here¬†and¬†here) have reported that the¬†Padang Serai¬†election’ll be postponed.

Note that the late Karupaiya’s death (from a heart attack), is doubly sad for his PKR colleagues and PH coalition buddies. Not only was the ex-army man a mightily respected and loved lawmaker, he was also¬†considered a shoo-in¬†in this election despite it being a 6-cornered fight.

Unsurprisingly, BN’s candidate, the man with many vowels in his name, C. Sivarraajh,¬†isn’t keen¬†on a postponement. His coalition’s legal eagle Azalina Othman’s said postponement can only happen if a candidate dies¬†before¬†voting starts. But since early voting’s already taken place and there might also be postal votes to take into account, that’s not the sitch here.

No spoilers, but PKR, naturally, disagrees. Party sec-gen Saifuddin Nasution’s said it’d be¬†fairer¬†if early ballots are voided and a minty fresh election held so voters have a full spectrum of candidates to choose from.

See, now that nominations are over, it’s too late for PKR to replace the late Karu with another candidate. His name’ll already be on the ballot paper.

And with such a tight race (see story above), every seat counts. Especially, as there’s also the possibility that with Padang Serai out of contention, the magic number to hit for a simple majority in Parli could be 111, not 112.

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Cross our hearts

Election season’s all about the sweet, sweet promises that pour out of politicos’ mouths like golden honey. And the question is always whether that honey’ll turn to cheap vinegar once GE’s over.

This week we saw several candidates launch individual manifestos; some future-focused, at least 1 promising to fight for local council elections, and 1 (allegedly! allegedly!) copied.

Manifestos are important, they’re the baselines by which we hold elected reps/the gomen accountable.

You can check out the various parties/coalitions’ manifestos here:¬†Barisan Nasional, Pakatan Harapan, Perikatan Nasional,¬†Gabungan Parti Sarawak,¬†Gabungan Rakyat Sabah.

Yes, that’s a whole lotta literature to go over in < 24 hours!

So to help you out, this and this piece and this pictorial compare and contrast the flood of offerings (this thread looks specifically at the promises to women).

Also, to make this as easy-peasy as possible, here’re the CliffsNotes of the big 3’s ‚ÄĒ i.e. BN, PH, PN ‚ÄĒ pledge documents:


  • It’s jam-packed with discounts/write-offs/handouts (e.g. free childcare, free higher education for B40 students, cash top-ups for households drawing less than RM2,208 per month). But what’s most significant here is the ironic promise of transitioning from race-based to¬†needs-based policies.


  • Also,¬†irony notwithstanding, gender equality reforms (e.g. equal citizenship-conferring rights for mamas of overseas-born kiddos) are being guaranteed.


  • Essentially, it’s a rŐ∂eŐ∂cŐ∂yŐ∂cŐ∂lŐ∂iŐ∂nŐ∂gŐ∂ Ő∂oŐ∂fŐ∂ recommitment of its¬†GE14 promises¬†(reductions of¬†highway tolls¬†included!) and enhancement of policies from PH’s time in office.


  • Also guaranteed are institutional reforms (e.g. separation of the roles of AG and public prosecutor), emphasis on groups impacted by Covid-19, and amendments to discriminatory policies.


  • A kinda re-write of BN’s manifesto, the emphasis is on PM8¬†Mahiaddin Yassin’s Prihatin’s schtick (buy-bye Keluarga Malaysia!).


  • Also on the table are institutional reforms, more allocations for rural communities, another sanctioned withdrawal of EPF funds, more gender equality and significantly, safeguarding Bumiputera rights and improving the Islamic legal system and Syariah Courts.

The super trio aside, there’s also¬†GTA’s “new Malaysian agenda”¬†that promises to restore the country to Asian tiger-status from mewling kitty. Also,¬†GPS’s 215 commitments¬†to ensure Sarawak hits developed status by 2030. Also, also¬†GRS‘s bag of undertakings pledging the restoration of Sabah rights.

Of course, how Malaysia’s gonna pay for all the above guarantees, especially given our¬†shitty financial state, is anyone’s guess.¬†

National service from BTL

We’ve covered lotsa things over the past few weeks, and with polling set for tomorrow, we thought we’d highlight some of the more important things we’ve put out that you oughta know about:

  • The amazing exclusive podcast series by noted analyst Dr Bridget Welsh, aptly titled¬†Bridget’s Kerusi Panas¬†‚ÄĒ


    • In this 10-episode special (we maaaay have a bonus episode for you today), Bridget travels across Malaysia and takes an in-depth look at the hottest constituencies (not literally!) which could end up deciding GE15.


    • Spoiler alert, they’re not the hot seats you may have expected.


  • Political analyses and commentaries ‚ÄĒ


    • Bridget’s take on how Umno’s machinations¬†on early dissolution of Parliament could backfire.


    • Prof James Chin’s views on how, despite all the posturing by the parties in the peninsula, the¬†real kingmakers¬†will be parties in the East.


    • Former Bar Council chair and Bersih chief Ambiga Sreenevasan penned this letter (and this in BM) on our role in ending endemic corruption, abuse of power and institutional failures destroying the country and why we gotta care.
  • BTL newsletter. We’ve unlocked the best of the best, just for you ‚ÄĒ

    • Our weekly election roundups

    • GE15 in numbers¬†‚ÄĒ A breakdown of candidates and other main takeaways. Don’t forget, there are over¬†945¬†(parliamentary) candidates, including¬†132¬†independents, and a record¬†39¬†parties, along with¬†3¬†state polls and the¬†Bugaya¬†by-election, and ONLY¬†9¬†straight fights!

    • How BN’s¬†Ahmad Zahid Hamidi¬†and Pakatan’s¬†Anwar Ibrahim¬†both wielded¬†power swords and slashed “winnable candidates” to cŐ∂oŐ∂nŐ∂sŐ∂oŐ∂lŐ∂iŐ∂dŐ∂aŐ∂tŐ∂eŐ∂ Ő∂pŐ∂oŐ∂wŐ∂eŐ∂rŐ∂ try and ensure victory. This leading to spectacular cases of revenge politics with some big name droppees wearing other party colours or contesting as indies.

    • The overshadowing of campaigning by (alleged, alleged) infighting/ jostling among party leaders, at least in the case of Umno’s Zahid-PM9 Ismail Sabri Yaakob-Khairy “I wanna be PM one day” Jamaluddin; and between PKR’s Anwar-Rafizi Ramli.

      • Sidenote: Speaking of Rafizi, the PKR #2 is rightly under fire (see here and¬†here) over his warning to anti-graft boss Azam Bazi that a new PH gomen would “find’ him. This, following a recent visit-not-a-raid¬†at his office.

    • Despite all the sweet whispers of gender equality in almost all manifestos, women rep in this year’s candidate lineup is dismal. Plus, there’s been ever-present sexism. Take the case of PAS’s Kedah Menteri Besar¬†Sanusi Md Nor.

      • FYI, the Centre for Independent Journalism has given PAS the title of “key amplifier” of hate-based speech. Err… bravo?

Your friendly election checklist

And lastly, here’s everything (or most things) you need to know about voting tomorrow:¬†

The Basics

Make sure about your voting information by checking with the EC¬†here. This includes where you’ll be voting, which voting stream (saluran) and your voting number.¬†

Voting stations are open from 8am-6pm in Peninsular Malaysia and from 7.30am-5.30pm in Sabah and Sarawak.

Expect longggg queues. The EC has¬†recommended time slots¬†for voters based on age groups, but these are, well, recommendations. Key word:¬†recommended. You can always opt to go at other times if you wish, as long as it’s within the voting period.¬†


  • Bring along your original identification card. Check¬†here¬†for alternative forms of identification that are accepted.

  • Don’t wear clothes that represent any political party. So no party logos or party colours.

  • You¬†cannot bring your phones¬†into the polling area. So leave ’em at home or hand ’em to the person on duty when you go into your voting stream (fear not, you can collect your phone after you’ve voted and your finger’s inked!).¬†

For a useful simulation of the entire voting process, check out this video by the EC, or this video by or this flowchart by the EC.

Dan Lain Lain

Can I vote if I test positive for Covid-19?¬†Yes absolutely! BUT there are rules. Find out more¬†here, but here’s a summary:¬†

  • No taking public transport (including e-hailing).

  • Declare your Covid-19 positive status to the Health Ministry officer at the entrance of your voting station.

  • Wear a facemask and observe physical distancing at all times.
  • You are encouraged to bring your own pen and hand sanitiser.

  • After voting, return home and continue with home quarantine.

Can I vote if I have painted fingernails? Is rain wet? Meaning, yes and absolutely!

Can I get goodies just by voting? Yes, but not as an inducement by politicos! We mean all the food and dining perks like here and here being offered by nice folks to encourage people to vote. Just give them the finger!

Check out Bersih’s frequently asked questions page here if you have any more, well, frequently asked questions. And if you notice fishy business on polling day, report it along with any evidence here.

*A Special Note from us


Most importantly, go vote! We know¬†political fatigue¬†is real and understandable, what with the 2 years we’ve had, and there’re fears your vote may not be¬†valued¬†as much as the next guy’s (thank you malapportionment!).

But just remember that some seats are decided by the smallest of margins, especially this year with so many multi-cornered fights and possible split votes. Also, if you don’t vote, others will and chances are, the chaps you cannot stand will be voted in by their supporters who did show up (gah!).

And if you really, really, really wanna do away with selfish aging dinosaurs / want new blood / want certain policies in (or out!) / want better minority rights, then you gotta vote for the rep/party/coalition that will do it for you.

Lastly, on behalf of the entire Between The Lines team, get out there! For your future and for the future of Malaysia.  

Our political leaders will know our priorities only if we tell them, again and again, and if those priorities begin to show up in the polls."



  • A Dutch court has found 3 people guilty of shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17¬†in 2014. The trio, 2 Russians and 1 Ukrainian was convicted in absentia of murdering the 298 people on board with a Russian-made missile.

  • The Republicans¬†have won control¬†of the House of Representatives in a closely-fought US Midterm Election, and now, they‚Äôre taking aim at POTUS Joe Biden, saying they‚Äôll¬†launch an investigation¬†into him and his family’s business dealings.

  • Meanwhile, Aunty Nancy Pelosi, who led Democrats in the House for almost 2 decades, is¬†stepping down¬†from her role.

  • The Myanmar military junta has announced 6,000 pardons to mark the country‚Äôs National Day, including¬†several opposition leaders¬†and political prisoners.

  • Wimbledon has relaxed its long-standing dress code for women players. But not by much. Women’ll have to wear all-white garments, but can¬†don dark-coloured undershorts. The tournament had been¬†under pressure¬†to change its policy to reduce anxiety about whether menstrual blood would be visible on white clothes.¬†

Finally! A newsletter that keeps it nice and short.

At Between the Lines, we summarise and contextualise the most important Malaysian news for you.

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