Going into the final bend of the polls, there doesn’t seem to be any clear winner just yet, though some are already claiming victory.
After proven to be wanting in the 2018 polls, some analysts are somewhat more cautious in their opinions though the usual suspects are still unashamedly full of themselves in making their predictions.
They are generally the partisan ones, though masquerading as experts.
The Government’s Bantuan Sara Hidup or translated as Household Living Aid, originally scheduled to be paid in December, is to be paid earlier, coincidentally between 15 and 18 November, just in time for the early polls on the 15th and before polling day on the 19th.
It is, according to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, to assist recipients to face the north-east monsoon that’s expected to hit the nation mid-November.
The concern shown by the PM over the impending monsoon, and the floods it brings with the potential havoc it may wreak on citizens living in its path cannot but be commended.
Yet, his cavalier attitude when brushing aside earlier concerns that the polls were being called during the monsoon, which in effect would burden citizens keen to cast their votes, somewhat raises doubts as to where his heart actually lies.
Popular opinions believe that his heartstrings were actually tugged by party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and other leaders aligned to him who were short of giving the PM an ultimatum if he did not call for an early election.
That served Zahid’s agenda well, but for Ismail Sabri’s, it had been downhill since the polls were called.
First, his allies, who stood beside him when Zahid was pressuring the PM on numerous issues, were axed from being candidates for the polls.
In effect, even if Ismail Sabri is able to defend his seat and named the PM as assured by Zahid, he is actually a lamb for the slaughter at worst, or a puppet PM at best.
And that he had not stood up nor say a word for his allies who were sacked did not help in opinions about his gumption or rather the lack of it.
Though the issue of the polls being called early and during the monsoon is now considered merely an academic exercise if not moot, the bitter after taste cuts both side of the political divide.
For one, those supporting the opposition who opposed their leaders from signing the memorandum of understanding with the Ismail Sabri Government now feel they are vindicated.
After all, one of the selling points of the Opposition MPs and leaders who signed the MOU was that the PM will not call for an early poll given the fact that the nation is still reeling from the pandemic and that the monsoon in recent years are devastating and calamitous.
Simply put, the PM’s offer for the MOU is simply to get the Opposition to be neutered and that he calls the shots despite ruling on a flimsy majority.
Another belief the Opposition carried close to their heart to assuage their conscience for working with the enemy is that the “collaboration” with the PM had ensured Mohd Najib Razak, chief behind the 1MDB infamy, is not protected.
Indeed, Najib is behind bars, but again, popular opinions point toward the early polls is called so that Umno/BN could win the polls, form the Government get Najib pardoned and cases against Zahid and a few others in the court clusters dropped.
Therefore, the early poll is an insidious strategy to win at whatever cost, even if the people are deprived their rights to cast votes albeit the monsoon, as it seems Umno/BN are of the opinion that a low turnout will be the elixir to their victory.
And a sucker punch to the opposition, the PH in particular. But what is there to expect from the PH other than promises of strong, formidable and convincing numbers of putting up a PM who, at that time, was only good to be one in waiting?
On the side lines now, enter Perikatan Nasional, styling itself as a swashbuckling opposition to Umno/BN.
Finding faults in the leadership of Ismail Sabri and contemptuous of Umno/BN’s politics, the PN is yet again hoping that the public is naïve enough to forget that they were instrumental in putting up the Ismail Sabri Government.
Its chairman Tan Sri Mahiaddin Md Yassin portrays himself as the potential saviour to the misdeeds and misrule of Ismail Sabri conveniently ignoring the fact that the latter’s Government is an Umno/BN/PN Government in which half of the cabinet members are from PN.
In fact, Mahiaddin himself enjoys a ministerial status in heading the National Recovery Council. Though of late, he tried to distance himself from Ismail Sabri, revealing that his council’s recommendations were not endorsed by the latter to the Cabinet.
Round and round it goes.
Lest the public forgets and to recap: Mahiaddin and several of the traitors to the PH Government went on to form the Sheraton Move Government which included leaders from PAS and Umno.
Their union lasted for 17 months and Mahiaddin was unceremoniously ousted through a betrayal by Umno/BN members of Parliament who were with him when he betrayed the PH.
And Mahiaddin, while licking his wounds and finally discovering the bitter taste of betrayal, supported Ismail Sabri to replace him and in return were accorded the ministerial status as head of the NRC.
But Ismail Sabri, despite earlier show of indebtedness towards Mahiaddin and PN, were made to realise that his allegiance is first to Umno, and his party did not find any remorse nor awkwardness in bullying him or making him look spineless. This is what they are offering.
Yet to them, it’s an offer the voters will not refuse.
Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.