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.
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Getting Harapan's ducks in a row
What’s Pakatan Harapan’s game plan this election? It’s unclear. But eyebrows are raised, and lips are pursed as the opposition coalition makes some big moves (can you say Tambun?), drops some heavy-weight incumbents from the race, and sees several other bigwigs opt out voluntarily.
Elsewhere in this week’s roundup, Dr Mahathir Mohamad still wants to buddy up with PH this polling season; and the deputy PM carrot is being bandied about.
Do the Opposition shuffle
In The Art of War, Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu said: “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”
However, Pakatan Harapan’s attempt to get all its tactical ducks in a row in the run-up to nomination day on Nov 5 seems to have resulted in more controversy than opportunity.
For one, the PKR-PH tauke’s decision to contest the Tambun parliamentary seat looks good on paper. And the presence of both Perikatan Nasional-Bersatu (incumbent Ahmad Faizal Azumu, a.k.a. Peja) and Barisan Nasional-Umno (Aminuddin Md Hanafiah) candidates suggest that votes against him could be split. Yet a loss for Anwar “I could’ve been PM” Ibrahim isn’t inconceivable, even if he does manage to swing votes the coalition’s way.
The PM-still-in-waiting, in any case, isn’t the only candidate PKR’s confirmed for the coming polls. There’s been a small but significant name drop, so to speak, with the party this week announcing a pretty impressive list of fresh faces, professionals and academics.
Still, the bigger story is DAP’s head-scratcher of an election plan, that involves some heavy hitters opting to sit out the impending polls and some others being given the unceremonious boot.
We already knew about DAP vet Lim Kit Siang calling time on his political career. And now both Tony Pua and Kasthuri Patto have chosen to sit this one out. Yet the dropping of Wong Tack for younger, shinier Young Syefura Othman, a.k.a. Rara in Bentong, and Charles Santiago for V. Ganabatirau in Klang has resulted in much discontent, especially as there’s the very real risk of seats being lost.
No doubt, DAP bigwigs may have good reasons for their decisions (apparently, allegedly, Wong Tack’s lost his mojo, and there’d been issues with Charlie S). Even so, while the latter’s been gracious in his removal, the former’s refused to go quietly into the night and has vowed to stand as an indie against his party.
Separately, current Selangor MB Amirudin Shari’s expected to take on ex-buddy, ex-Selangor MB Azmin Ali in Gombak; Nurul Izzah Anwar might be staying in Permatang Pauh; while mummy Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail heads to Bandar Tun Razak; and, Penang CM Chow Kon Yeow could be going for Kasthuri’s Batu Kawan seat.
Meanwhile, on the gomen side of the political fence, Umno-BN strongman Nazri Aziz and long-serving MP Shahrir Samad have also confirmed they’re not contesting. It’s unclear, though, what the deal is with caretaker law boss Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
Never Be Out Of The Loop Again
🎶 Alright stop, collaborate and listen 🎶
PM4/7 Dr Mahathir Mohamad knows that the survival of GTA, his Malay-based coalition, will be down to alliances. Problem is, his hook-up attempts have, so far, been met with crickets and slammed doors.
FYI, Mads’ plan is to unite with both Perikatan Nasional and PH, and in so doing, deny Umno-BN victory. But PN and Muhyiddin Yassin appear reluctant to take the bait, which is perhaps why nonagenarian Maddey’s trying his bestest to hitch his Malay wagon to PH’s star.
The issue for Mahathir, however, is not just that Abang Nuar will be wary of the man who denied him the PM-ship twice, but that GTA aside, PH’s got a long list of appeals and applications by other suitors to weigh first. So get in line, Mads!
Be that as it may, seat negotiations with both Muda and PSM are supposedly, purportedly, possibly nearly done, and everything, it seems, will be finalfinalfinalfinal come Sat, Oct 29. But PH’s yet to treat with indie collective Gerak Independent, which has at least 1 candidate — Tawfik Ismail, son of DPM2 Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman — who could potentially hit Umno-BN in the gonads were he to be fielded in Bagan Datuk, home of Umno boss Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Incidentally, speaking of Umno, Malaysia’s grand old party has maintained its refusal to link up with PAS. But that sure ain’t stopping its former lover from continuing to dream of a ménage à trois featuring both Umno and Bersatu.
Meanwhile, it’s anyone’s guess what’s going on with PBM, that party of kataks that was (and maybe still is) led by former PKR man Larry Sng and which now seems to be imploding.
Chief Larry, see, appeared to have not too long ago agreed for caretaker plantations minister Zuraida Kamaruddin to assume the presidency. Yet he’s now saying “no can do” and that he’s still bossman. Also, he’s suspended a coupla Zuzu allies.
The party’s supreme council, nevertheless, has urged Larry to attend a meeting to clear the air.
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A tale of many DPMs
The deputy prime minister role was a hot topic this week after BN-Umno el presidente Zahid Hamidi declared that his geng would appoint no less than 3 — count ’em, 1 for Sabah,1 for Sarawak and 1 for Peninsular Malaysia — should it win the coming polls.
Pakatan Harapan head honcho Anwar also quickly chimed in to claim and allege that the opposition coalition had always planned to appoint not 1 but 2 shiny deputies — 1 for East Malaysia and 1 for West. (There’s no word on whether PN wants to raise the offer to 4 DPMs.)
So what’s behind this sudden show of generosity? To appeal to East Malaysian political parties, of course!
The name of the game is securing support. Hence, attempts to tryna entice any possible Borneo bloc (such as the one proposed by Warisan) in the run up to GE15 and more importantly, to ensure strength in numbers in Parliament after elections.
With 3 big-ish peninsula coalitions this time around — BN, PH and PN — expect some serious post-election wheeling and dealing, where you can bet your bottom Ringgit this DPM carrot will come in handy.
Even so, leaders from Sarawak ruling coalition GPS — which has been kinda non-committal about which side it’s on — were less than enamoured, saying any DPM offer must come with real powahhh, not just a fancy title. FYI, the DPM role has zilch legal or administrative power, so you get why they aren’t impressed.
BT-Dubs, the Federal Constitution doesn’t actually define what a DPM does. By convention, she/he stands in for the PM when the latter is abroad/incapacitated/passes away while in office.
So having > 1 shiny deputy big bosses kicking it in Putrajaya means one will have to be the 1st among equals to assume stand-in PM responsibilities. It will also mean more $$$ outta the federal coffers just to pay salaries (more than RM18k a month in salary per DPM!)
Fun fact: It’s not actually compulsory for Malaysia to even have a DPM (think PM8 MooMoo Yassin and his posse of senior ministers).
More GE15 news you might’ve missed
Sus surge in Sabah?
With Undi18 and automatic voter registration coming into play, it’s only natural for almost all constituencies to see a spike in voter numbers this polls, what with over 6mil new voters added to the roll nationwide.
Like in Kudat, where a large number of ethnic Indians apparently appeared in the electoral roll when the Bajau Ubian is typically the largest voter group. Or the apparent rise in Bumiputera Muslim voters across Kadazandusun Murut areas.
The Election Commission (EC) hasn’t commented on this yet but Sabah ruling coalition GRS is probing the sitch.
Not up for debate
If you were hoping for a riveting debate among prime minister candidates like in so many other countries, you might wanna blame caretaker PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob for not making it happen. The BN PM candidate flat-out threw the suggestion of one down the longkang (drain) ostensibly because such debates are “not part of our culture“. Say what now? Well maybe that should change Izzy, and change can start with you.
Icerd outrage… again
With polls come the dredging up of past sins to be aired in public and used as election fodder. Case in point, that manufactured outrage over the Rome Statute and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd) being dragged into the spotlight recently by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.
Lim to sue
The latter recently claimed that former finance minister Lim had turned the Finance Ministry headquarters into a tokong Cina (chinese temple) by allowing lanterns to be hung on the premises during Chinese New Year.
Tommy sues too
Former attorney-general Tommy Thomas is suing the gomen + the special gomen task force investigating his book, My Story: Justice in the Wilderness.
Mr T’s seeking to declare that the task force’s published report on his book was “illegal” and had damaged his reputation.
Bits & bobs and non-election news
Yesterday’s Covid-19 sitch —
New cases: 2,762 (Total: 4,890,437)
New actual deaths: *4 (Total: 36,462)
Active cases: 28,720 (ICU: 47)
Double vaxed: 84.3% (Population) 98.2% (Adults) 93.8% (60+) 92.1% (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: 1.6% (Population) 2.2% (Adults) 5.2% (60+) — (12-17) — (5-11)
*Numbers could change as gomen updates data
- The KL High Court will decide this morning whether to acquit Najib Razak’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah or require him to enter his defence in his RM9.5mil money laundering case.
- Meanwhile, the court has dismissed everyone’s not-so-favourite convict ex-PM Jibby’s bid to challenge his being barred from attending Dewan Rakyat sessions. The issue’s now deemed academic as Parliament’s been dissolved.
- More from the courts, The KL High Court will decide today if Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman will have to enter his defence or be acquitted of his 4 criminal breach of trust, money laundering and misappropriation of assets charges. The case concerns RM1mil from ex-party Bersatu.
- The Kinta district health office’s flying doctor service has been temporarily suspended for safety checks after 1 of its choppers crashed in Cameron Highlands, injuring all 6 on board. The service connects those in the interior, especially the Orang Asli, to medical help.
- “Do not interfere” is the literal message by caretaker home minister Hamzah Zainudin to NGOs and even the UNHCR on how Malaysia manages refugees. The gomen recently and controversially deported Myanmar nationals despite publicly condemning the Myanmar junta’s brutal and repressive regime.
- Security forces in Iran reportedly opened fire on demonstrators following another night of protests. Demos have rocked the country for over a month now, following the death of Mahsa Amini. Mahsa was detained for wearing her Islamic headscarf “improperly”.
- 1 person was killed and 4 others, including Spanish footballer/Arsenal defender Pablo Mari, seriously injured following a stabbing attack in the outskirts of Milan in Italy. The suspected attacker, who police claim is mentally unstable, has been arrested.
- Elon Musk has claimed that he’s finally “acquired Twitter“. Musk’s remarks come following concern that 1 of the first things the World’s Richest Man could do as Twitter boss is let Donald Trump back in.
- Despite pinky swearing to protect the environment, Brit PM Rishi Sunak won’t be attending the Cop27 climate summit. It seems he has “other pressing domestic commitments”.
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