When the Malaysian Minister of Entrepreneurial Development, Mohd Redzuan Mohd Yusof announced Malaysia is building a flying car and Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad said he was launching the country’s third national car project, the ideas did not fly well with the Malaysian populace.
Reeling from the nightmare of having embarked on the first national car, Proton, which had to be bailed out in the billions using taxpayers money until a foreign suitor, Geely arrived on the shores, the Malaysian public responded with incredulity to both these lofty mega project announcements.
This resulted not in flying cars, but fleeing voters who delivered two consecutive electoral drubbings that Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan ruling coalition received in the rural parliamentary seat of Cameron Highlands and the just concluded state seat of Semenyih in Selangor.
Mahathir’s ruling coalition has been facing increasing criticism for failing to deliver its promised reforms and is being blamed for not protecting majority Malay rights after having swept into power on the theme to rid Malaysia of what it called a kleptocratic government
It is apparent that the two electoral reverses point to tailwinds that originally propelled the ruling coalition to power have now turned into headwinds.
However, the current ruling coalition should have quickly got down to resolving the major issues on the ground as they were deemed to be a credible alternative to Malaysia’s grand old party, the Barisan Nasional
It was for this reason alone that they were elected into office. While being vocal and strident in their criticisms would seem noble if they were to occupy the seats on the opposite side of the divide, it would be less appealing if they continue to do the same after being elected into power.
A week is a long time in politics and 10 months is indeed more than sufficient time that the people have given them to play an effective role, but from the results of the two-by elections, it is clear that voters are voicing their disappointment.
The back-to-back electoral losses would serve as a wake-up call for the ruling government to start fulfilling their promises and get down to solving the peoples’ bread and butter issues.
The Semenyih by-election is the litmus test for Malay support and with more than 68% of the voters who are indigenous Malays, it is clearly evident the Malays have turned their back on Pakatan Rakyat.
One possible source of resentment is that they perceive policies in the last 10 months that appears to have diminished their status with some key appointments in the judiciary and government given to non-Malays.
Plans by the ruling Pakatan government to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms Racial Discrimination (ICERD) was seen as the ultimate sell-off Malay rights and was subsequently backtracked by the ruling government.
Pakatan’s electoral losses can also be attributed to its lack of coherent policy such as wanting to introduce a flying car and the third national car when other pressing issues such as the cost of living and efforts to reduce the hardships of people remain unattended.
Its decision to do away with neighbourhood government clinics which provided medical care to the old and the needy at mere 1ringgit (US0.25) suggest that the government appears to be moving away from universal public healthcare to medical tourism that would benefit foreigners and the rich.
The government must expedite the needs of the poorer segments of the populace referred to as the bottom 40% of the populace (B40) which are still struggling with cost of living issues such as the price of food and other necessities that have not seen any significant decrease in its prices since the ruling coalition coming into power 10 months ago.