Whether they realise it or not, voters in Melaka tomorrow will decide on the longstanding problem between the old and new political leadership in our country.
The main battle is between Barisan Nasional, Perikatan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan. The other contenders are mostly trying out their luck, with many of them will lose their election deposits.
BN has no local icon to tout.
Its former Chief Minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali is a nonentity who did not register on the minds of the Malaccans whereas Melaka UMNO Liaison Chief Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Yusoh is despised by many for his demeanor as well as his involvement in mega projects involving land reclamation.
There is a strong rumour that if BN win, Sulaiman will only serve as Chief Minister until the next general election to pave the way for Rauf.
On top of this, BN’s poster boy in the Melaka state election is former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, a convict who has caused colossal financial cost to the nation.
His greed knows no bound, as evident in the latest revelation that he has requested the Federal Government to gift him a house worth RM100 million.
PN is putting up posters of its chief who is also Bersatu leader Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s “Abah Sayang Melaka” (Your Dear Father Loves Melaka) image around the state, particular in Malay areas.
It is a reflection of a coalition with no local leaders that it had to resort to a failed former Prime Minister to save the day.
PN had to cast aside its state chief Datuk Mohd Rafiq Naizamohideen as he is a highly controversial figure in the eyes of Melaka people.
As I predicted earlier, PN announced Deputy Minister Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin as its Chief Minister’s, with an eye on capturing Tanjung Bidara -a hot seat involving her as well as Rauf, and Zainal Hassan of Pakatan Harapan.
PH has Adly Zahari, the popular Chief Minister after winning the 2018 general election, praised for his integrity, sincerity, and friendliness.
He is seen as a problem solver who removes bureaucratic practices. He held weekly walk-in sessions with the public that provided unprecedented access to the government never seen before in Melaka’s history.
Furthermore, he is popular among all ethnic groups. The challenge now is whether Adly could lift the entire team to cross the line to win at least 15 out of 28 seats.
The real issues in Melaka
In this election, PH is projecting a government with integrity and competence, as well as moderation and a multiethnic character.
This is in contrast with both BN and PN which plotted the Sheraton Coup on the claim that Malaysia would be better off served by a Malay-only government. Whether or not the ruling party is competent or upholds integrity is another matter which has gone unaddressed and unaccounted for.
While recent issues of Timah whiskey and Kedah’s ban on 4D gaming outlets may accentuate “for Malay” stance, non-Muslims and moderate Muslims see this as an encroachment into society’s basic freedom.
Apart from Covid-19 recovery, the two other most important issues that concern the people of Melaka are land reclamation and flood. Both issues are, to a certain extent, intertwined.
Several swing seats are at the coastal areas and affected by a mass reclamation project which has irked the locals. BN, especially Sulaiman and Rauf, are seen as promoters of the reclamation at the expense of public interest.
Reclamation has been perceived by the locals as causing flood. Melaka has experienced its worst flood just weeks ago which is still vividly remembered.
As for effect of Covid-19, voters are concerned about jobs, businesses, and welfare aid.
The reason why Muhyiddin’s Abah posters is used in the campaign is that PN polls found some voters appreciative of his financial aid during his tenure as Prime Minister. However, I doubt this would translate into votes.
BN doesn’t shine as far as pandemic recovery is concerned while PH may or may not benefit from discontent of the government’s poor Covid-19 management the months before.
I wish PH would have the chance to highlight more about what it can do for generating jobs with more decent pay. Hopefully, it can be done for the next election campaign.
The day after tomorrow
At this crucial moment, voter turnout is the more important determinant factor.
PH has at least 8 seats firmly in its column, with another four potential seats although not without a tough fight. UMNO has 10 seats firmly in its hand.
The rest of the seats are all up for grabs. Based on the results of last general election, the 10 swing seats were decided by a total of only 5,000 majority votes.
Seven state seats won by UMNO in GE14 were with a majority of less than 1,000 votes while three of PH seats were in the same category.
This means every vote counts.
Another factor that will determine the outcome tomorrow is how many seats PN can snatch from BN. My take is PN won’t win more than four seats.
I hope PH can gain an outright majority of more than 15 seats to set the state and the nation on the right path.
It is a tough battle. Perhaps, PH can pull through to form the new state government the day after tomorrow.
It is not just about forming the government but also to push the agenda of change, the transition from old politics to new, for a better Malaysia.