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.
It's the final countdown
With Nomination Day just 24 hours away, all warring sides are finalising their champions for the ultimate Hunger Games — GE15. But it’s long-ruling Barisan Nasional which appears to be in most disarray, no thanks to its bossman’s axe.
Elsewhere in this week’s roundup, we look at Pakatan Harapan bigwigs second-guessing a major decision; ex-PMs with very different strategies; Warisan’s big plans; and, does anyone really think GPS will lose?
Lost? Here’s our roundup of last week’s election news!
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How to drop friends and alienate people
There’d been much speculation over Barisan Nasional’s (BN) plans for the polls. And the actions of chieftain Ahmad Zahid Hamidi — who’s purportedly, assumedly gunning for the Putrajaya corner officer & swivel chair and who (allegedly! allegedly!) arm-twisted folks to ensure it happens — seemed to indicate that it’s all about consolidating power.
The coalition’s contesting 178 seats. And along with the introduction of new faces (e.g. caretaker money minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz) and return of usual suspects (Zahid, caretaker PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob etc.), the big news is that Herr Bossman’s wielded his shiny axe and gotten rid of a bunch of critics.
Outgoing science minister Dr Adham “Warm Water” Baba (incumbent Tenggara MP) is one such purge victim, as is caretaker national unity boss Halimah Mohamed Sadique (Kota Tinggi). And importantly, so are Umno warlords Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (Pasir Salak), Noh Omar (Tanjong Karang), Annuar Musa (Ketereh) and Shahidan Kassim (Arau).
There’s been much public wailing and gnashing of teeth as a result, with disgruntled fellows publicly whacking their boss (see here, here and here). And at least 1 of the axed fellas planning a return to the election stage by jumping to Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional (PN) gang (more below). Zahid’s warning to spoilsports and saboteurs be damned.
Interestingly, amid the sackings, 1 current PAS man and 1 quarantine-breaking ex-leader have been handed BN tickets. Also, much to the annoyance of MIC, BN-friendly parties, including the Indian Progressive Front and Makkal Sakti, are in.
Time will tell if all this will make Zahid more popular among the rakyat (who allegedly, allegedly don’t think much of him) and importantly, help BN romp to victory.
BT-Dubs, regardless of who wins on Nov 19, Pekan’s destined to not be held by a Razak family member for the 1st time since 1986. This, ‘cos Nizar Najib a.k.a. Jibby Jr. wasn’t picked, as previously rumoured, to stand in his daddy’s constituency.
Be that as it may, he has been chosen for a state seat. So there may yet be a mischievous plan in the works. Or not.
Never Be Out Of The Loop Again
Pakatan’s strange strategy
But there’re calls for 1 of the axed men, 3-term incumbent R. Sivarasa, to be restored pronto due to the KJ factor. See, BN’s decided to field caretaker health minister Khairy Jamaluddin in Siva’s old seat.
Sungai Buloh, FYI, is an opposition stronghold and was won in GE14 by Sivarasa by > 26k votes. But KJ’s not any ol’ candidate, which is why Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) de facto election strategist Rafizi Ramli’s mooted the incumbent’s return.
PH head honcho Anwar Ibrahim, however, has a different view of things. The big man’s claimeth 1) Sivarasa’s health concerns are realy why he was dropped; and 2) his replacement, R. Ramanan, is more than capable of beating El Beardo.
Still, Ram, an ex-MIC man, has a sus history. So Anwar maybe oughta consider things a bit more before saying no.
Sungai Buloh aside, PH’s complete candidate list has apparently been finalised. Ditto its manifesto, which lists 10 focus areas and outlines how, if voted in, it’ll manage the cost of living, dismantle discriminatory rules/practices and (surprise, surprise) lower highway toll charges.
Yet it’s been far from hunky dory this past week, what with PH’s biggest wigs having had to deal with pushback ‘cos of several contentious GE-related decisions.
Among the major issues are the coalition shutting teenie, tiny PSM outta Sungai Siput, DAP’s dropping of winnable candidates and importantly, a rural Malay agenda that’s seen Amanah, DAP and Muda tussle over seats.
PAS splinter party Amanah aims to be the champion of the heartland. Hence, why it’s pissed at having to concede rural Malay seats to its partners.
Speaking of Muda, PH’s unofficial electoral partner’s going for 6 parliamentary seats in total.
The youth-based party’s not been given easy constituencies to stand in, however, and even headbro Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman may be in for a bumpy ride in Muar.
Nevertheless, observers believe the party’s “Muda Lawan Menteri” (Muda Fights Ministers) gambit, on account of its candidates going up against lotsa established names, could maybe, possibly, result in surprise wins.
Hey, go big or go home, right?
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What’s MooMoo’s play?
PM8 Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional seems to be making some power moves as it looks to contest as a coalition bloc for the 1st time this GE and obtain a ruling mandate that’s decided by ballot boxes instead of hotel meetings.
Interestingly, it isn’t contesting all 222 parliamentary seats but just 169 — Bersatu with 74, PAS (64), Gerakan (20) and other component parties (11).
BT-Dubs, it’s also planning to contest 116 state seats across Perak, Pahang and Perlis.
And then there’re the big crossovers. Remember that long list of rivals axed by Zahid? Well, PN has presented them a convenient platform to un-axe themselves.
Like Arau incumbent Shahidan Kassim (see above), who’s decided to switch hex codes from BN-blue to PN-blue to defend his seat.
Also, as mentioned above, there’re crossovers from PN to BN!
All eyes are on Nik Abduh Nik Aziz and Che Abdullah Mat Nawi after they were cut from PAS’ candidates list. Both are big names — the former is the incumbent Bachok MP and son of the party’s late spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat, while the latter is the incumbent Tumpat rep and a former deputy minister.
Yet, with less than 1 full day to go before nomination day, there’s still plenty of time for 11th hour shirt-changing in the name of GE glory.
Looks like that BN-PN-PAS Muafakat Nasional dream is well and truly buried. For now at least.
Here’s what everyone else is up to…
Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA)
From one ex-PM (Moo Yassin), we move to another — PM4/7 Dr Mahathir Mohamad. His Pejuang-led GTA’s announced it’s fielding a total of 121 candidates, including well-known actors (as in literal actors and not politico drama kings) Ahmad Idham Ahmad Nadzri (Port Dickson) and Eizlan Yusof (Sabak Bernam) and activist Lando Zawawi (Tanjong Karang).
Still, while they’ve rolled out the celeb red carpet, the coalition has not named a PM candidate, yet. We’re surprised it’s not Mahathir.
Once a PM hopeful Shafie Apdal and his Sabah-based Warisan party is really, truly trying to make inroads into Peninsula Malaysia.
Of the 53 parliamentary seats it’s eyeing, 27 are in the peninsula. Notable candidates include old hat/ex-MCA prez Ong Tee Keat in Pandan, i.e. where he got slayed in GE13 by PKR’s Rafizi Ramli. And joining the lineup are ex-DAP politicians Bryan Lai (Ampang), Jeff Ooi (Bayan Baru) and Wee Choo Keong (Wangsa Maju).
We gotta say, it’s an interesting strategy to go for relatively oldie goldies/former reps when many parties are shifting to younger candidates to appeal to Undi18 voters. Stay tuned to see how this’ll turn out.
Warisan’s other strategy, it seems, is to position itself as a “kingmaker” and is mooting a “Borneo Bloc” with its Sarawakian counterparts against “Malaya-based parties”.
FYI, it remains divorced from PH and has yet to announce any formal alliances with anyone, although prez Shafie has been making googly eyes at PBS.
Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS)
Over in Sarawak, ruling coalition GPS announced candidates for all 31 Sarawak parliamentary seats. If voting patterns are anything like in the 2021 state election, the question here won’t be whether GPS will win, but by how much.
Nancy Shukri has been moved to Santubong as incumbent Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar retires. Also retiring is Rohani Abdul Karim. Puncak Borneo incumbent Willie Mongin, who frogged it from PKR to Bersatu and now to GPS lynchpin party PBB, is contesting his seat under the GPS logo.
As for federal allies, the coalition seems to be adopting a sorta wait-and-see stance and will only decide depending on who wins.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
This marks the 2nd time PH has scorned the socialist party, both times over the Sungai Siput seat.
A done-hard-by PSM finally cut its losses, however, and has announced 2 candidates — teacher S. Tinagaran (for Rembau) and party sec-gen KS Bawani (Ayer Kuning).
Party boss Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj is not standing in Sungai Siput for the 1st time since 1999.
Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM)
PBM is a hot mess right now. Its electoral debut has been overshadowed by a dramatic leadership crisis between Zuraida Kamarudin and Larry Sng.
Just last week, Sng claimed to be the rightful president and suspended Zuzu along with her entire faction from the party. But the 2 have since made nice and said “other matters” will be dealt with further down the road.
PBM, which is going it alone after dreams of holding hands with BN failed, is contesting 6 parliamentary and 1 state seat.
Gerak Independent (GI)
Independent candidate “movement” GI is set to field 10 hopefuls, including lawyer Siti Kassim in Batu and ex-Umno MP Tawfik Ismail in Bagan Datuk. Like PBM and GPS, it has not aligned itself with any major coalition.
The bits & bobs of non-election news
Yesterday’s Covid-19 sitch —
New cases: 4,711 (Total: 4,914,557)
New actual deaths: *0 (Total: 36,480)
Active cases: 34,609 (ICU: 67)
Double vaxed: 84.3% (Population) 98.3% (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
- As you can see from the stats above 👆, caretaker health tsar Khairy’s warning that Malaysia’s experiencing a small Covid wave, thanks to that dastardly ultra-infectious XBB variant is no joke (> 4K new cases!) So be on your toes, folks!
- Expect a very wet GE. The Northeast Monsoon’s starting early. 2 days after nominations, in fact, on Nov 7.
- Cops are investigating claims that a teacher at a school in Penang forced a Form 1 student to kneel with her hands up during a school assembly as punishment for wearing velcro-strapped shoes. The student was also allegedly made to cut her kayiru, i.e. holy string, and remove her pottu (black dot) and vibuthi (holy ash) from her forehead.
- As predicted, Bank Negara Malaysia’s raised the overnight policy rate (OPR) by 25 basis points to 2.75%. This is the 4th consecutive hike since May.
- The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s deciding whether to call in BN-Umno boss Zahid Hamidi after meeting with blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin. The fugitive blogger’s alleged that Zahid scored millions in kickbacks thanks to our littoral combat ships (LCS) deal.
- Authorities have been ordered to release a stateless mum and her 3 kids from detention at an immigration depot. The family was arrested in July for not having citizenship papers. They were all born here, FYI.
- Ousted Pakistani PM Imran Khan was injured in his leg after his vehicle convoy was shot at while en route to capital Islamabad to demand for fresh polls. Khan’s aides have called it an “assassination attempt” and protests have erupted since the shooting. The former cricket star is in stable condition, but there have been reports of more injured people and at least 1 death.
- Benjamin Netanyahu has won a parliamentary majority in the country’s 5th election in under 4 years. Ex-PM Netanyahu was boosted by an alliance described as “ultra-nationalist” and “right-wing”. This is while he’s still on trial for corruption charges, which he claims are part of a political witch-hunt.
- It seems ex-POTUS Donald Trump is considering another presidential bid after Tuesday’s midterm elections. His Republican party is expected to win next week’s polls.
- The UN General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly (185-2) to condemn US’ move to embargo Cuba. The decades-long embargo bans trade between the 2 countries, which the US maintains as its response to what it deems human rights abuses.
Under the Biden administration alone, Havana’s said the embargo cost the Cuban economy US$6.35bil.
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