It’s election season! To help you keep track of GE15 (and of your sanity!), BTL will be rounding up and distilling key election news, issues and insights, along with all the thrills, spills and tantrums, every week.
More crowded than a pasar malam
Nominations are outta the way, campaigning’s begun and manifestos have been dropped. But in such a packed house, do voters know friends from enemies?
Elsewhere in this week’s GE15 roundup, another politico’s got his sights on that Putrajaya top-floor office; a transport issue hits us hard; and, rumours of a super secret political deal emerge. Oh, and declare your assets or do not. There is no try.
Lost? Here’re our roundups of past weeks’ election news!
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Giving us sardine vibes
The nomination of candidates took place last weekend. And it’s a sloppy hot mess with multi-cornered fights galore.
What did you expect with a whopping 945 parliamentary and 441 state-seat candidates? Heck, 1 constituency even has 10 tributes! (is there something in Batu we don’t know about?!).
Among the reasons for this is that apart from the usual major coalitions — Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) — there’s a host of “newbies” with old faces, such as PM8 Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional (PN), Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA), froggers’ Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) and Borneo-based coalitions Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS).
Also, battle lines aren’t clearly drawn thanks to fellows either getting dropped, jumping sides, running as indies (see here, here and here) and making gomen-forming pacts (more on that below). [You can see the full list of candidates here.]
Analysts sayeth this unique sitch, with a jam-packed lineup (and yet still poor female representation, boo! hiss!) and changing allegiances, may possibly, probably mean no clear winner come Nov 19. But more immediately, can anyone even tell who’s on whose side?
Malaysia’s Games of Throne aside, a bunch of election manifestos were dropped this week, all of ’em featuring shiny, shimmery promises of how awesome possum and inclusive things will be if the “right people” are elected.
So as BN, PN, GPS and GRS all pledge a load of allocations, pay bumps, handouts, loan write-offs and discounts, given the state of the country’s finances, the big question is — who’d be paying for all this?!?!
BN’s been especially taken to task over certain promises (e.g. cash top-ups for households) that are great but appear unsustainable. Ditto PN and its guarantee of yet another round of Employee Provident Fund withdrawals! And don’t even get us started on PH’s recycled no-toll pipe dream.
Still, the beauty of election manifestos is that parties can promise the sky and moon without much explanation.
You know, like how BN’s now guaranteeing equal citizenship-conferring rights for mummies despite denying this for decades when in power, and how it’s pinky swearing to enact needs-based policies despite having banged on for yonks about the superiority of a single race.
BT-Dubs, this article compares and contrasts PH’s manifesto (which was dropped last week) with BN and PN’s, while this NGO looks at what the general election (GE) players are promising women.
Never Be Out Of The Loop Again
Whispers in the dark
For the 1st time in like forever, there doesn’t seem to be a clear frontrunner in the election. Which is why the grapevine’s been buzzing about possible deals being struck on the q.t. to form a gomen post-polls.
Heck, some agreements are so secret, even the folks supposedly making ’em don’t know (allegedly! allegedly!).
One rumoured pairing that’s raising a helluva lot of eyebrows ala The Rock is a maybe hook-up between Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s BN and Anwar Ibrahim-led PH.
Now, note that both fellas in the spotlight have pooh-poohed claims of a hush-hush pact (see here and here), as has Abang Nuar’s lieutenant, Rafizi Ramli. Nevertheless, certain rivals and a nonagenarian ex-PM continue to fan the flame.
And what’s made the smoke rise higher is Uncle Zed Hamidi’s suggestion that his BN crew might be ready to work with anyone at all after the polls, Anwar included.
FYI, as we’ve pointed out before (you can upgrade/ subscribe to our paid newsletter, so you don’t miss out on our pearls of wisdom 😉), no party/coalition obtaining a clear majority of seats to form a gomen isn’t necessarily bad.
In fact, it’s been argued that the instability of the caretaker PM9 Ismail Sabri Yaakob-led administration actually resulted in a stronger Parliament and allowed bipartisan initiatives, like the anti-hopping law, to get discussed, tweaked and passed.
But what’s also true is that a gomen without majority support would mean perpetual manoeuvrings as well as delays with the passing of important legislation.
Zahid and Anwar aside, PH-PKR boss Nuar and his #2 Raf Ramli’s markedly different polls strategies appear to be driving a wedge between ’em and making voters uneasy.
Basically, the 2 have publicly expressed different POVs about the dropping/ appointing of candidates, sacking of irritants, and the number of seats the opposition could end up winning. Yet, Anwar’s promised that there’s nothing to see here, and the duo’s actually marching to the same beat. Scout’s honour!
Good speech Nuar, but are voters convinced?
BT-Dubs, if you’re worried Zahid might stiff his buddy Izzy Sabri of the PM-ship (IF BN wins), he’s crossed his heart he won’t pull a Mahathir (our words!).
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Over in Sungai Buloh, Umno candidate Khairy “El Beardo” Jamaluddin has been hogging the limelight over his seemingly academic quibble with party president Zahid Hamidi.
Tl;dr KJ was booted out of contesting his Rembau seat to make way for party #2 Mohamad Hasan and wound up being fielded further north in PKR territory of Sungai Buloh.
Now a passive aggressive what’s-the-point back and forth is taking place between bigboss Z and the bearded one, with the former claiming 3-term Rembau MP Khairy had asked to contest in the Harapan stronghold.
The popular caretaker health minister, though, insisting he’d been left with little choice after being unceremoniously booted out of his constituency.
BT-Dubs, Khairy also grabbed some headlines for announcing his (not so secret) prime ministerial ambitions, teasing voters with a long-term plan for W̶o̶r̶l̶d̶ Putrajaya domination.
Is that an open challenge against “BN poster boy” Ismail Sabri Yaakob? Well, he’s insisting he just wants to win Sg Buloh for now.
Don’t forget Umno’s rigid pecking order that’s standing in the way. At 46, KJ’s got a wait ahead of him. Hey, consider himself lucky he survived Zahid’s ruthless pruning this GE15.
The timing of all this is apparently confusing voters in the racially mixed seat. Not aligning himself with the party top brass may make KJ more likeable to fence sitters, but his BN-Umno affiliation could prove much too quantum a leap.
Adding to the equation is Pakatan Harapan contender R Ramanan, who is arguably less a celebrity compared to his adversary. What has his strategy been like? Narrative-wise, at least, he has repeatedly demanded answers from KJ over a 2006 “scandal” (allegedly! allegedly!) involving ECM-Libra shares. KJ’s answered by threatening to sue.
But Ramanan has some skeletons himself. The former MIC treasurer-general was implicated in 2014 for using a forged letter to obtain RM5.5 million, but has since dismissed the case as a past “misunderstanding“. His vague entry in PKR’s asset declaration initiative has also raised mucho eyebrows.
We can’t smell what T̶h̶e̶ ̶R̶o̶c̶k̶ PH is cooking, but time will tell if PKR’s move to drop party veteran R Sivarasa (apparently due to health issues) after 3 consecutive terms was the right strategy. And if voters will be swooned by the KJ’s charm.
Other c̶l̶o̶w̶n̶ election season news
Where them BN flood-waders at?
It’s been raining cats and dogs and musang even, with parts of the country under water again or bracing for floods, which raises the Q of how this will impact the polls.
But wait a mo. Didn’t a certain Zahid Hamidi say BN would wade through floodwaters for GE15? Looks like we might just see our politico friend get his shoes wet for voters. Or not.
In any case, what his coalition’s done is make it rain cash. See, instead of those eligible for the next instalment of the Bantuan Keluarga Malaysia payment getting paid in December, PM Izzy’s bringing it forward to Nov 15, ostensibly to allow people to prepare for the monsoon. Heart of gold, this one.
Fodder, fodder everywhere
One thing that’s certainly become campaign fodder (see here, here and here) is the whole LRT breakdown debacle.
So where are we now? Well, apparently trains were going “poof” from control screens. So to prevent disaster, the decision was made to shut down 16 stations on the Kelana Jaya line.
But don’t worry, a joint team of experts from the signalling system provider in Canada and our own local boys and girls will get to the bottom of it. In other words, we’re nowhere near solving the problem.
Thankfully, it’s the new #KitaJagaKita and some good Malaysian souls are offering rides to those left stranded by the lack of an LRT service.
I swear, you no swear?
So, all PKR’s GE15 candidates have made their asset declarations, the last being immediate ex-president and lovey-dovey wifey of the current president, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (you can check all of ’em declarations out here).
Also, PSM’s deputy sec-gen Bawani KS, Amanah numero dos Mujahid Yusof and Muda head bro Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman have revealed their financial situations.
But don’t look at DAP, ‘cos they ain’t gonna be doing it. Neither will PN’s frog extraordinaire Azmin Ali (‘cos it’s mere “theatrics”) and PAS (‘cos they’re allegedly “too embarrassed” at their lack of millions).
Army gets mad
The army is muy mucho furious at a quote attributed to its big boss in a media report, which made it seem he’d allowed caretaker defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein to campaign in military camps.
Never happened, say them.
As we get closer to voting day, more and more viral messages spreading disinformation seem to be popping up. One such message claims that if you miss the recommended voting time you see when you check your voter registration details online, you won’t be able to cast your ballots.
Well, it ain’t true folks. Those are just recommended times, not fixed slots.
Former Bar Council chair and Bersih chief Ambiga Sreenevasan has urged John and Jane Q. Public (that’s us!) to vote, despite whatever disappointment we may still harbour over the Sheraton Move. Citing the anti-hopping law, she sayeth it’ll be right tough for an encore performance by itchy backside politicos (we’re paraphrasing here).
She wrote this piece for BTL back in May on why we all have a role to play in ending endemic corruption, abuse of power and institutional failures destroying the country. You can read the English version here and the BM version here.
Non-election odds and ends
Yesterday’s Covid-19 sitch —
New cases: 3,436 (Total: 4,940,456)
New actual deaths: *8 (Total: 36,522)
Active cases: 33,965 (ICU: 92)
Double vaxed: 84.3% (Population) 98.3% (Adults) 93.9% (60+) 92% (12-17) 43.3% (5-11) (State breakdown here)
Boosted: 49.8% (Population) 68.9% (Adults) 71.3% (60+) 1.5% (12-17) — (5-11)
Double boosted: 1.7% (Population) 2.3% (Adults) 5.3% (60+) — (12-17) — (5-11)
*Numbers could change as gomen updates data
- The Federal Court has reserved judgment on whether a probe into Court of Appeal judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, who as a High Court judge sentenced inglorious ex-PM Najib Razak to jail, is constitutional.
- Meanwhile, Chief Justice Tunku Maimun Tuan Mat has slammed the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for having announced the investigation, saying it’d weakened public trust in the judiciary.
- The Court of Appeal has upheld a RM220,000 fine imposed on a dental clinic found guilty of 4 charges in connection with the death of Syed Alman Zain Syed Alwi, the son-in-law of Zahid Hamidi, 6 years ago.
- Dengue cases went up by 233 last week, a 16% increase from the previous week, from 1,460 to 1,693. 2 deaths were also reported.
- Malaysia’s lost another leading light. Prof Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof, a trailblazer in promoting the appreciation of unique cultures, heritage and arts, an expert in anthropology, literature and Mak Yong, and a prolific poet and playwright, died at his home in Penang. He was 83.
- Votes are still being counted for the US midterm elections, but it looks like the Republicans are set to win a majority in the House of Representatives. See live updates here.
- Ukrainian troops are claiming to have made major gains after Russian troops said they’d pull out from the southern city of Kherson. Locals are reportedly distrustful and wary of a trap.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to meet POTUS Joe Biden next week at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia; marking their first face-to-face meeting since Uncle Joe took office in Jan 2021. Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin won’t be joining the beach party, though.
- The Taliban government of Afghanistan has banned women from entering public parks and amusement parks in capital Kabul, even if they’re accompanied by a male relative.
- Australian Peter Gerard Scully was sentenced to 129 years in prison for sexually abusing children in the Philippines. This was on top of his existing life sentence for human trafficking and rape. His accomplice and girlfriend Lezyl Margallo was sentenced to 126 years in prison while 2 accomplices were jailed for 9 years each.
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