HOLDING federal and state elections at different times might be in the larger interest of the people. But there is no necessity to hold both the elections at the same time.
Some states might not want to hold their elections at the same time as the Federal Government for certain reasons. Social and economic conditions might militate the holding of simultaneous elections.
In fact, the holding of both elections at different times might even promote diversity and democracy.
The Pakatan Harapan leadership has recently declared that the three states under its control – Selangor, Penang and Negeri Sembilan – might not go along with the Federal Government in calling for the 15th General Election (GE15) this year.
It was decided in a meeting attended by the three state leaders that holding the election in the monsoon season was not in the best interest of the people.
(Editor’s Note: PAS-led states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah will also not dissolve their legislative assemblies simultaneously with Parliament if a general election is held soon, according to its deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.)
Rather than preparing for the election to be held this year, the three state governments would be focussing their attention on flood mitigation programmes and ways to assist the victims.
UMNO has been insisting for some time that the GE15 should be held this year come rain or shine. This is based on the logic that the Barisan Nasional (BN) stands a better chance of winning the election if it is held this year. The predictive abilities of the UMNO seems amazing.
“All because of one man”
One wonders whether they had obtained the services of the bomoh (shaman) to be so sure of winning this year. If UMNO can win this year, then why can’t the party win if the election is held next year?
What is going to change in a matter of few months? It is not that the corruption among certain UMNO leaders is something new.
The involvement of the top UMNO leaders in scandals such as the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), littoral combatant ship (LCS) and others have been exposed to the public.
The leading person behind the move to hold the election this year is none other than the UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
He is up to his neck in corruption despite his acquittal in the foreign visa system case. He has other corruption charges pending against him.
UMNO’s move to go for the GE15 this year is to achieve an electoral victory as soon as possible.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob resisted the move for a while, but there are indications that he might have capitulated to the sectarian interests of the UMNO court cluster.
It boils down to the fact that only the Yang Dipertuan Agong who has the constitutional powers to hold off the election this year.
Even if Ismail Sabri seeks the Agong’s advice in the dissolution of Parliament, the latter can withhold his consent. I am sure His Majesty is well informed about the weather conditions and their consequences on the people.
Different timing is fine
All-in-all, I think it is certainly a right move on the part of the PH leadership to withhold the election in the states they control.
Going along with the Federal Government might appear that the PH leadership is no different from the self-seeking leaders at the federal level.
By withholding the consent to have elections in the three states, the PH leadership can demonstrate that it cares more for the welfare of people than the Federal Government.
Whatever said and done, the growing assertion of the states in seeing things differently to the federal government is an indication of a vibrant and healthy democracy.
Gone are the days when elections for Parliament were timed exactly to those for the state assemblies.
I think the role of the opposition, its increasing assertiveness, the undemocratic attempts by the Federal Government to impose a sense of artificial uniformity and others are signs of changes.
The main guiding principle seems to be rooted in the interest and well-being of the people and not centralisation benefitting a few. – Oct 6, 2022
Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the state assemblyperson for Perai. He is also deputy chief minister II of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main photo credit: New Straits Times