Pondering The Possible Outcomes of General Elections 14
by Dr. M. Bakri Musa, Morgan-Hill, California
By Thursday morning May 10, 2018, the election results of the 14th Malaysian General Elections would have been clear. Or perhaps not. This being Malaysia, count on “power failure” or last minute arrival of “postal” and “absentee” ballots at many counting stations, or worse.
Dispensing with those and other infinite possibilities that could mar and interfere with the final tallying, the results of this election could be placed along a spectrum of expectations. At one end would be the supreme sweetness of a supra-majority win by the Mahathir-led coalition. The other would be the nightmarish scenario where neither Mahathir’s coalition nor Najib’s Barisan wins a clear majority, prompting Najib to have his UMNO party join PAS to form a Malay-only government over the objection of his Barisan’s non-Malay partners. In effect Najib would destroy Barisan in order to retain power even with a shaky and narrow communal majority.
The final results will probably fall somewhere in between. The closer the outcome is to the first scenario, the better it would be for Malaysia. I would put a clear Barisan victory closer to the other pole in terms of its effect on the nation. Najib and his band of crooks would take that as a license to continue plundering the country. Malaysia cannot afford that anymore.
Back to the first extreme, the only other ingredient that would add to the sweetness of that victory would be for UMNO to lose a few more states, including in particular historically-significant Johor where the party was formed, and PAS to be kicked out of Kelantan, the only state it governed before the election. Then even if Najib were to be defeated in his own Pekan constituency, that would not add anything to the already sweet victory for the country.
By imagining the consequences should the election outcome be at one end or the other of expectations, we could then contemplate and be prepared for when the results fall somewhere in between, as they most likely would.
With Mahathir’s overwhelming victory there would be much jostling for power among members of his erstwhile fractious component parties. After all, the coalition is very recent, being formed just before the election. However, Mahathir had been through this many times before with his old Barisan, so he should be able to handle this minor crisis with ease, tact, and aplomb. Just reminding them where they were before he joined them would inject a much-needed sobriety and sanity among the most ambitious and rambunctious members.
A dejected Najib Razak contemplating on his future in the event of an electoral defeat on May 9, 2018
Some minor crises with respect to key ministerial appointments and other plump positions are to be expected. The good news is that with the exodus of those sympathetic to the previous regime, there would be plenty of jobs for those not getting ministerial posts. Remember, there is always the Ambassadorship to Timbuktu.
I do not expect Mahathir to have difficulty keeping his over enthusiastic team members in line. He also has the luxury of an abundance of talent, which he did not have when he was with UMNO and Barisan. Someone did a tally on the number of PhDs from excellent universities in his coalition in contrast to those with degrees from Preston in UMNO; it was impressive!
That settled, Mahathir should focus on his central campaign promise, to hold accountable those responsible for the 1MDB mess, in particular Malaysian Official 1. Impounding his passport would be a critical first step!
Now to the other extreme of possible election outcome where no party or coalition wins an outright majority. That would prompt Najib and Hadi to join forces. The two and their followers have often hinted at such an outcome during the campaign. The obscenity of that political consummation would assault the collective Malaysian sensibilities. The two would play hard on overt communal sentiments, one using the slogan of Ketuanan Melayu, the other exploiting the simplistic “Islam is the answer” caliphate call. Both very powerful, and both very distracting as well as destructive.
Najib would have little qualms throwing the non-UMNO members of his coalition under the bus. Indeed it would give him immense perverse pleasure. Remember his infamous “What more do the Chinese want?” after his shellacking at the 2013 election?
More ominous is that there would be more than a few in Mahathir’s coalition who would not be able to resist the seduction of that powerful siren song. That would only strengthen Najib’s dark forces.
That is the one critical reason to hope for the first outcome. With Mahathir’s overwhelming victory, the inevitable crossing-over of a few would not jeopardize his coalition. More to the point, Najib would not even try. Besides, few would be tempted.
Just this simple mental exercise of contemplating the two extreme possible outcomes for GE 14 should guide voters as to which party to vote for. The choice is clear. Give Mahathir and his team an overwhelming victory this Wednesday, May 9, 2018.