Indecision over Date for GE-13

March 29, 2013

Root Cause of Uncertainty: Indecision over Date for GE-13

by Tricia Yeoh@

PRIME MINISTER Datuk Seri Najib Razak said this week that a weakNajib-razak-r government owed to a reduced parliamentary majority would mean instability and uncertainty, in a bid for greater support for his Barisan Nasional coalition.

Surely he ought to realise that it is the indecision over when the election itself will be held that has contributed to this situation of uncertainty. Such political risk could have been avoided by a straightforward announcement ahead of time of the election date instead of allowing this continued speculation for well over two years.

There is a wide range of opinion as to how the electoral outcome will affect national stability, in terms of both social and economic effects. For instance, Credit Suisse reported that foreign investors in Malaysia may do a good deal of selling ahead of the general election in light of such political risk.

According to the Wall Street Journal, foreigners hold around 25% of overall share capital in Malaysian banks, “the highest level since the global financial crisis”. Analysts such as MARC also predict that the ringgit will weaken over political developments relating to the election.

However, one must be careful not to equate the high political risk involved in an uncertain election outcome with that of instability due to a possible government change.

The adverse economic impact would come about mainly because this has never taken place before, and without any precedence, it is difficult for people to imagine being governed by any other political coalition.

A recent public forum organised by Institut Rakyat, Penang Institute and the Islamic Renaissance Front discussed this matter.

GE13Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, leader of the Opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat, reminded the audience that a peaceful transition from one government to another would really reflect upon a mature democracy.

This is true, since if the system itself has in-built robust mechanisms to allow for a transfer of power, then there really is no need for fear – the kind of fear that incumbent governments are wont to drum into voters to have them cower under, all for the sake of prolonging their positions.

Titled “Economic Management during Political Transition”, it was a valuable opportunity to discuss what kind of economic policy would prevail should there be a change in government.

Malaysia’s institutions seem to be strong enough to withstand any major shocks. Indeed, the World Bank did say that Malaysia has a large capital market, strong institutions, sophisticated participants and high quality accounting practices. In short, the economy will not collapse should there be a change in government.

Panelists also spoke of experiences from other countries which had also gone through political transition.

One particularly interesting insight was from Professor Woo Wing Thye from Penang Institute, who showed how leaders in autocratic regimes would fail in their attempts at reforming their countries, as long as they were nominees of the previous government.

For example, this was one of the factors that allowed reform in China: Mao Zedong’s appointed successor Hua Guofeng failed, but Deng Xiaoping who deposed him succeeded.

Likewise, politicians in Malaysia should note that any reform must be led bywe-the-rakyat a leader who is not tarnished in any way by the acts or wrongs of its predecessor. Whichever coalition wins, the appointed Prime Minister would do well to remember this.

On a final note, it is no longer an excuse that because Malaysia follows the British parliamentary system, therefore the executive body can arbitrarily set the election date, which is the current custom.


The United Kingdom’s Parliament passed the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 that introduced fixed-term elections. According to this law, barring certain exceptions, polling day would occur on the first Thursday in May of the fifth year after the previous general election.

Parliament would automatically dissolve 17 working days before polling day.For the sake of certainty and stability, which the Prime Minister prides himself on ensuring, this may be a welcome step in the right direction.

In memory of the late Zainon Ahmad, or Pak ‘Non, who helped me believe in Malaysia.

14 thoughts on “Indecision over Date for GE-13

  1. Good views by Tricia and the positives vibes indicated by some other notables are very encouraging. We have the brains , adequate laws , infrastructure and also abundance of raw material. Truly blessed country. No single maverick is needed,or ever has been , to run this beautiful country! We need democracy in actually running the country and belief in their people. So please liberalise the media and really empower the MACC! Presto our problems will over!

  2. With an important item of the parliament dissolution, our Najib is concerned on going for a bicycle ride around PJ. Foreigners reading this will be laughing their heads off.
    On a similar situation, today’s Star toilet paper, the front page full page coverage was on the Clause 88 of the FAM. Amazing 2 idiots.

  3. The MB of Selangor at first said he would hold election separately if the Federal government dissolved Parliament early. Some people don’t agree, since it is a waste of time and revenues. The delay of election in Selangor would result in delay of forming the Federal government. Then he said he will dissolved the Dewan Rakyat after Cap Goh May. Nothing happen. Then he said he will do it on 21st April, the day the Dewan Rakyat dissolved itself, automatically.

    Therefore, I don’t see any indecision of the date of GE13, as long as it is not against the law. However, if Pakatan get to rule, I would suggest we change the law to fix the date, when we should go to the poll. No more guessing game. Make it as the British with Fixed-Term Parliaments Act. Hence there will be no ceramahs or political campaign, 2 ~ 3 years, running up to GE.

  4. “This is true, since if the system itself has in-built robust mechanisms to allow for a transfer of power, then there really is no need for fear – the kind of fear that incumbent governments are wont to drum into voters to have them cower under, all for the sake of prolonging their positions.” -Tricia Yeoh

    What ‘ in-built robust mechanisms to allow transfer of power’ are you talking about???

    Whoever loses just step down and whoever wins are then welcome to take over- probably by a handshake and a meaningful speech [by the winner as well as the loser] as is done in America- a first world country. If Malaysia aspires to be a high income society, and a first world nation, the leaders cannot be still harbouring barbaric instinct of clinnging on to power, or destroying official documents in the middle of the night on their way out of office.

    Please respect the voters’ IQ and stop talking rubbish. It reflects badly on the speakers or candidates themselves and that will further drive their potential supporters away. The more we say so-and -so is not good to be a PM, or a MP without any substantive facts, the more voters will go for the candidate being bad-mouthed. This is psychology. Malaysian politicians tend to still think the rakyat are simple folks without any substance between the two ears.

    Are we going to ever able to change for the better??

  5. Two points, Dato Din – 1, the GE date, and 2. The mechanism of transition.

    1. The election date. We inherited the Westminster convention where the PM in office decides when to dissolve the sitting parliament, and hold the general elections. We just aped Westminster after Merdeka. Not mindlessly, but conveniently. It was an unfortunate decision. The British have since corrected the vagaries of this convention, and have fixed a scheduled elections date. Yet we retain the old anachronistic system of an uncertain polling date. Why?

    2. Peaceful transition. There are three basic advantages of a democracy over other forms of government, one of which is peaceful transition of power. This is a cardinal and inseparable condition of a democracy. Those who threaten violence, or instill fear of the the possibility of violence during the transition, are undemocratic by nature, and are enemies of the democratic spirit. They, should they exist, do not deserve to be in the democratic arena.


  6. Najib has been living in a quandary as he is the first UMNO BN PM staring at the possibility of loosing a GE and the premiership and hence federal power and opening BN’s five decades of plunder and corruption to open public scrutiny !! No UMNO BN leader has been put in this situation. Being the softie that he is, it has to be a nightmarish situation with Rosmah to wake up to, each morning,and Altantuya’s spirit to reckon with each night !!! So no BUBAR …leave him be lah !!!!

  7. A lot of financial analysts commented on the economy situation if new party is to ruke Malaysia. Personally this is the least concern of all issues by looking at so many misuse of government funds (such as their cow business in Singapore, who on earth wants to rear cow in Singapore with no more land even for human) and surface evidents of corruptions. These so called Malaysian ministers are not business capable at all.

  8. Since he still can’t make up his mind when to hold the elections and its an easter weekend for my Christian friends, Happy Easter… for me I am gonna mix some Gordon Gin with some Schweppe Tonic, slice of lime and lots of ice…. enjoy and happy weekend to all…… tonight Karpal Singh is gonna be speaking in Batu Ferringhi opposite the Golden Sands… 8pm…

  9. A caretaker government is actually a job description for a mortician, or whatever you guys call a person who prepares the dead. So Jib’s UMNO now is the Walking Dead?

    Who says this flur is not ‘business capable’? It’s just that he’s so much into micro-managing, that he has missed out winning the big contract – but is still using blunderbuss marketing taught by the local snake-oil merchant.

  10. Indecision??…Nah, I don’t think so. Najib has ample time from April 30 over ninety days to decide the best date for election. I thought the PR jittery over many current issues gave the BN an added advantage to prolong the election further…??!!

  11. Yeah! Tony is right because UMNO or to be exact Madhathir & Daim is greater than God Almighty from the heaven above

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