pic by BERNAMA
THE result of the Melaka polls is telling numerous tales.
The obvious one, which is being bandied about in post-election analysis, is that Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) managed to win two-thirds of the seats and that it does not need to depend on any other party to rule, and gives it bragging rights.
Pakatan Harapan (PH) — which won the state quite handsomely in the 2018 polls — is left with a meagre five seats, effectively sending it to the minor league, despite high expectations that it would have performed otherwise.
The Perikatan Nasional (PN), in particular its key component Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia completed its role as an Umno/BN stooge for the coalition to return to mainstream politics after the devastating defeat in 2018.
The two seats it secured does not provide much ground for it to style itself as the alternative to BN and neither does it provide much excitement to the rest of the nation.
That is, if the result is taken as the microcosm of national polls, at least insofar as the peninsula is concerned.
In other words, taking the Melaka polls as the barometer, Umno/BN expects to be able to regain power at the federal level, PH back to pre-2018 as an Opposition and PN as another one of the wannabes, very much like what happened to Semangat 46 in the 1990 and 1995 polls.
All the above are very superficial assessments.
Dig a little deeper, the details tell a different tale.
In terms of popular votes, Umno/ BN only secured 38% while PH managed 35%. What Umno/BN secured is merely a 0.5% increase from the 2018 results and given the voter turnout of over 80% then compared to the about 65% in this poll, a larger turnout would change the equation drastically.
In actual figures, Umno/BN’s total votes is just more than 8,000 votes against PH’s.
And for the PN, the combined efforts by Bersatu and PAS securing 24% of the popular votes does not make it a total pushover.
That taken into consideration, the Melaka poll does not make the nation any the wiser in what to expect in the general election especially when it involves Sabah and Sarawak, the former’s political fluidity provides unpredictable swing to the pendulum.
But what the figures and results are unable to decipher are actually better tales to share.
For one, if PH, in particular the PKR which lost all seats it contested, can put aside its ego and accept that its leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim made several missteps which proved detrimental to their cause, they could probably regain some footing.
For one, the decision to sign the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the federal government did not sit well with the Opposition supporters, in Melaka and outside.
It rendered them impotent and it showed when they were unable to oppose the budget and only decide to declare wanting a review after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad questioned the move by the government to consider Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s request for a RM100 million worth of property as a “gift” to him as a former prime minister (PM).
And the threat of a review is not the same as a severance, as it is viewed as merely an afterthought when public displeasure came to the fore. A similar threat of reviewing the MoU was uttered when the Attorney General’s Chambers chose not to appeal against a decision that favoured Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.
Whether these unsavoury moves by the PM-in-waiting should be enough for his removal as the leader of the coalition and party is their business, but for other Opposition supporters if PH does not buck up, the Melaka outcome may very well be the national trend.
Secondly, again for the PH leaders, if they can pull their heads out of the sand, they would probably be able to realise that the victory in 2018 was not by chance but rather by design.
There was a unity of purpose, a clear and present danger and a common enemy.
After the 2018 success, a number of PH leaders and supporters, particularly from PKR and a fraction from the DAP, embarked on a campaign to deny Dr Mahathir’s role and along the way started believing in their own propaganda that they had attained such a popularity that they would have done it on their own.
Not only did Dr Mahathir and the then-Bersatu provide the much-required edge for the Malay votes, he provided the lead for the opposition to discover the unity of purpose.
Even then, as they are now, they forgot who their actual enemy was and instead started training their guns on Dr Mahathir, Bersatu and then-PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.
Eventually, the Sheraton Move happened. As much as it was due to the treachery of Bersatu president Tan Sri Mahiaddin Md Yasin and Mohamed Azmin as much as the arrogance of those PH leaders and supporters, where the victory got to their heads.
Nothing much had changed since then despite having lost the federal and several state governments.
They lost their way and Anwar, despite unparalleled confidence, had not been able to lead them to the promised land despite repeated assurances.
Added with the fact that, apart from dented egos, PH is further injured by the backstabbing of Mahiaddin and Mohamed Azmin which added to the distraction.
Najib’s stunt to request for the multi-million-ringgit property is as much a reflection of his lack of shame as it is a strategy to convince his supporters that he was innocent and that he deserved what an ex-PM deserves.
Never mind the damning book written by his brother Datuk Seri Mohd Nazir Razak of Najib’s crimes. Najib’s captive supporters will remain besotted and delusional as it may be, Najib is beginning to believe in his own crafted popularity and that a comeback is not only possible but imminent.
Kleptocracy 2.0 is being nurtured and coaxed. Forget about PN. It is responsible for giving the kleptocrats the lifeline.
Anwar and PH should fear it as it will send back what little reforms achieved several decades back. That should be their focus and their common enemy.
Alas, Anwar and PH are found wanting.
Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.