The days of a single party rule in a nation being the norm are over as the dynamics of politics have been transforming over the decades and winning and losing elections are part of the landscape.
Johor Chairman of the Unity, Domestic Trade And Consumer Affairs Committee or State Exco, Dr S Ramakrishnan, said that it is no longer the norm for one coalition or party to govern forever and former Opposition coalitions are now beginning to win general elections.
Commenting after last Saturday’s Johor state by election loss in Tanjung Piai, he said that it was inconceivable in the past for a ruling coalition to lose as its grip on the democratic process by former regimes did not allow dissent.
“In Malaysia, once the people rose and changed the old regime last year in the 14th General Election, the electorate now realises that they can do it again and they used their power to express their sentiments at the recent Tanjung Piai by-election.
“Gone are the days where the people did not even dare to think of toppling the government as they did not fully understand the impact of of their individual votes,” he added.
Dr Ramakrishan said that this facet of allowing differing opinions is part of the New Malaysia. He added that the people “know they are the ones truly in power and they are at liberty to choose whichever party or coalition that can meet their needs.”
He warned that if those elected do not govern and perform to expectations, they face a quick end and the people will elect new representatives at the next opportunity.
According to Dr Ramakrisnan, votes in the Tanjung Piai by-elections that went to Barisan Nasional (BN), was not a show of support for it but rather were votes of dissatisfaction for the Pakatan Harapan (PH).
“While this may be a shocking to many, this occurrence is something very normal that has been happening in democratic countries like India, Taiwan, Japan, Mexico and more, for example. These countries had a major shift in power when the long-reigning party or coalition lost and were replaced by the opposition parties,” he said.
But Dr Ramakrishnan said, the new governments, usually an amalgamation of parties who were only united to win the elections, had very few issues that they could agree on collectively.
“Not being properly united and still bickering with each other, these new governments suffered major defeats to the previous coalition in subsequent by-elections. That was exactly what happened at Tanjung Piai,” Dr Ramakrishnan added.
According to Dr Ramakrishnan, the cause for the voters’ change of heart were similar in nature – national, local and bread and butter issues that were yet to be dealt with.
Among the national issues that irked the people, said Dr Rama, were the introduction of Khat classes in school, the immense support given to and refusal to repatriate the wanted Indian fugitive Zakir Naik, the false branding of locals as terrorists linked to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and other issues still plaguing the people.
At the local level, in Tanjung Piai, the world economic slowdown, the price of palm oil, difficulty in getting foreign workers in oil palm estates, fisheries and local industries are among the issues that made the the electorate turn against PH.
“We must give credit to our opponent as they were much more organised that us, knew the grassroots issues and were very focused on the target group. Despite BN being a corrupted party with many top leaders facing ongoing court cases, the people still voted for them. This is why we must focus on the bread and butter issues, cost of living, and ease of doing business. These are the areas they want help in,” he surmised.
Dr Ramakrishnan warned that the previous government could never be dismissed from the arena after losing in the General Elections.
“It all depends on the new government and on how they perform. If the new government performs well, the old regime would be as good as forgotten.
“But, if the new government is insensitive to the people’s needs, the old regime will still be a force to reckon with,” Dr Ramakrishnan said. -/TISG