Of budgets and politics


WITH Budget 2023 done and dusted — where developmental expenditure for 2023 was increased by a massive 32% or RM23.2 billion to RM95 billion — attention shall now shift to the next step of the Malaysian political economy. 

The elusive General Election (GE) for the 15th Parliament. 

The mandate for the 14th Parliamentary session will expire by June 2023 but currently, Umno is being incessant in urging for the next GE to be expedited, despite opposition from every other corners of the political sphere. 

Taking positives from their most recent under-attended state elections of Johor and Melaka, where BN (Barisan National) returned to power in a convincing way, and of the incarceration of their biggest black sheep, Umno is on a near prophetic self-belief that a GE called amidst what is forecasted to be among the worse monsoon season in many years, will give them an advantage to regain control over the federal government. 

As outrageous as it may sound, by the numbers and looking at the various transitioning phases within the major political parties in this country, their conviction is not totally without merit. 

Umno internally is fractured but not divided. Their hold on power via the ministerial members in the Putrajaya camp has many times put them at loggerheads against the PWTC camp, but power has also enabled them to put up a united front in public. 

Umno also boasts strong tailwinds from the Melaka state election, where BN won a simple majority in November 2021, as well as the Johor state election, where BN trumped with a return to their customary two-third victory in March 2022. 

Combined with the jailing of their former president, whose own self-sustaining propaganda machine is giving Umno an additional advantage of increasing sympathy, no matter how preposterous it may sound to the private citizens of Malaysia, considering the price the rakyat still need to pay for his multibillion-ringgit thievery. 

In the other corner, things are currently not looking too rosy. 

The strongest among them all, has literally reached its glass ceiling, running out of urban seats to contest with their existing 42 constituencies all secured, by default of a waning adversary in the form of MCA. It’s a party in transition, and the shift from a political dynasty from the Lim family to a proper functioning hierarchy will need some time to settle and is yet to be tested. 

Its staunch partner, PKR, is also transitioning into a proper democratic outfit, despite being undermined by its patriarch of a leader’s myopic persistence to the premiership. Its existing 36 constituencies may seem delectable to be combined with DAP’s, but their combo have proven to be their undoing as the other parties are finding it hard to reach a common ground with both PKR and DAP on the same side. PAS considers DAP its arch-enemy, whilst Bersatu is PKR’s ultimate nemesis. 

There could be a dark horse in the form of the Gabungan Tanah Air movement, led by Pejuang with its four Parliamentary seats, but for the time being, it remains as what it is.

It is therefore not surprising that Umno is being buoyant of their prospects in calling for an early election. Their persistence is showing their true colours and apathy to the wellbeing of Malaysian citizens facing a very real and worrying possibility of another calamitous monsoon season in coming months. 

  • Asuki Abas is the editor at The Malaysian Reserve.