Friday Jottings: An unimaginable inevitability?

Najib and Ahmad Zahid want national polls to be held soonest possible when the Parliament term expires more than a year from now


IT WOULD be conventional wisdom to be wary when anyone is overzealous in selling an idea or a product especially when it is not a necessity.

In a similar vein, every Malaysian, Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders and members should be cautious — when former Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak and Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi want national polls to be held soonest possible when the Parliament term expires more than a year from now.

Given the global food and supply crisis caused by the Russia-Ukraine war, and that the nation is still struggling to get back on its feet from the Covid-19 apart from the rising cost of living — a costly election is not something the country could well afford.

Furthermore, it is not like the current government is led by a different party. Apart from the PM being from Umno and BN, the party and coalition are well represented in the Cabinet with ministers — 11 and 15 — respectively.

Therefore, it is not pushing for the polls to change the party or coalition leading the government or that the PM needs to be removed because he is from a different party or coalition.

The ironic twist is that the demand for an early poll with the intention of changing the leadership is not coming from the Opposition and, in fact, are equally opposed to the idea.

It can be argued that for Najib and Ahmad Zahid, an early poll would ensure victory for Umno and BN given the mood and trend shown during the recent Melaka and Johor state polls.

But the fact that it was won on a very low turnout and the percentage they secured was meagre, doesn’t guarantee a similar outcome in a national poll.

Another conventional wisdom would be that the Umno/BN’s PM be propped up and strengthened so that he performs well and succeed in bringing the nation out of the rot which in effect will ensure both the party and coalition regain greater support from the cross-section of society instead of banking on hardcore members as they did in the two state polls.

That only leads to the conclusion that there is no wisdom in the push for an early poll from Najib, Ahamd Zahid and their ilk.

If there’s no wisdom, the drive would then be triggered strictly for benefits, and cui bono or who benefits, would obviously be for the main proponents who are saddled with the unenviable number of court cases, and one actually already convicted pending a final appeal.

But it would be unfair to conclude that all in the Umno and BN camps are keen on the early polls despite the possibilities of a return to power not via the backdoor.

Those opposed are aware of the unfavourable state of affairs in the country, the economy is stagnating, unemployment and rising cost of living are very real and the effect of the weakened ringgit is trickling down fast.

In other words, any responsible leader or party will place plugging these problems as their priority and not the pursuit of raw power for the benefits of a few.

In fact, these unfavourable situations are actually an opportunity for leaders to prove their worth.

Unluckily, these supporters of Umno and BN are without the gumption to express these opinions and thwart the proponents of the early poll from pushing their agenda.

This is the unmaking of Umno and BN, very much how it was before the 2018 general election.

Lest they forget, a few years before the polls, Najib’s 1MDB scandal had unravelled, particularly abroad.

Calls for Najib to step down were taken up by a segment of Umno but it went unheeded as another segment chose to defend him and condemn those who wanted him to resign.

The Umno members who wanted Najib were either sacked or left the party and went on to form the splinter Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

But the rest chose to remain silent and stayed on as Umno members.

If only they had been a little bit more conscientious and a sliver of courage, their combined voices would have probably ended Najib’s reign, Bersatu would have been stillborn and the nation’s reputation would not have been tattered as it is today.

The nation’s ragged image caused by Najib’s plundering nature was somewhat salvaged when he and Umno were defeated in the election.

Much had flowed under the bridge since and Najib is looking at an opportunity to overturn his misfortunes through the polls yet again.

By any standards, there shouldn’t be much hope for Najib to make a comeback given the public odium displayed locally and internationally.

But popular opinion is not of the essence in the case of Najib instead, a core of minority loyalists and beneficiaries plan to upstage a divided majority.

A phrase from a movie of a popular magical world — “…things that seem unimaginable today will seem inevitable tomorrow” sounds truly ominous and apt.

It promises the damning fate of a nation which used to punch above its weight.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.