SIEVING through the myriad of issues raised during the campaign period, three or four key messages tend to pop up more regularly and frequently.
Without doubt, the main reasons to reject Umno/Barisan Nasional (BN) are corruption and abuse of power, perceived or otherwise. In many ways than not, the Mohd Najib Razak and 1MDB scandals are legacies that refuse to go away.
Retaining Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, whose countless corruption-related cases are still being tried at the courts, to spearhead the party and coalition stood as a stark reminder to all and sundry that Najib’s incarceration has not rid the party, nor coalition, of the stigma.
Prior to the elections, analysts were of the opinion that corruption is not a leading issue compared to that of bread and butter concerns, but the manner that the opposition to Umno and BN keep raising the spectre of corrupt practices past and present, show that obviously it is an issue that appeals to voters.
Despite efforts by Umno/BN to re-affirm their choice of Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob as their poster boy and prime minister-elect, opinions that it is still a Ahmad Zahid’s show and power to decide only entrenched the former’s image as a lame duck and a puppet.
Khairy Jamaluddin’s assertion that Umno had deviated from its roots, had in effect also re-affirmed public opinion that Umno had lost its moral compass.
Khairy’s attempts to then re-badge himself as a reformist in, and for Umno was not bought by many, especially when he was thrown into the deep end by the party in Sungai Buloh, long considered a Pakatan Harapan stronghold.
If anything, while Khairy may only convince a sprinkle from the opposition camp to view him favourably, he would have alienated some of Umno’s loyal voters who would take his candid take on the party as a backstab.
If he manages to scrape through in this election, it would have been by the sway among fence-sitters who may just vote for him for his highly visible public image.
The other hot election issue is about betrayals and traitors, frequently used as ammunition against Tan Sri Mahiaddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional as well as Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, another of the party’s stalwart and previously a Pakatan Harapan/Parti Keadilan Nasional leading player.
Along the way, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, PH chairman and now chairman of unregistered Gerakan Tanah Air and Parti Pejuang Tanah Air, were dragged into the same pit by PH supporters.
Mahiaddin and Mohamed Azmin are condemned by PH as architects of the Sheraton Move which led to the fall of the PH government merely 22 months into its five-year term.
Dr Mahathir in turn is vilified for resigning and not passing the mantle to PH and PKR poster boy Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
This despite efforts by Dr Mahathir to explain that his resignation did not lead to the fall of the PH government and him pointing to the example of the UK Conservative’s party experience which saw the change of three PMs since Theresa May, all from the same party because the government did not fall.
In the case of PH, the fall of the government was because Mahiaddin had led Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia out of PH and followed by Mohamed Azmin’s PKR faction, thus destabilising the PH government and eventually its downfall.
But such logic, with nothing to stall it in between, passes through the two orifices of the ears which had been drummed to only hear the name of Anwar as PM, no one else and nothing else seem to matter.
Neither does the righteous PH/PKR supporters want to hear about how Anwar had actually been the root cause the Azmin’s betrayal which then propelled him into taking the Sheraton Move.
While in the case of Mahiaddin it was clearly an opportunistic move to become the PM at whatever cause and probably the one and only opportunity, there is more to Azmin’s betrayal.
Surely, Anwar’s support for Rafizi Ramli in the race for the PKR deputy presidency against the incumbent Azmin in the party’s 2018 polls is, to Azmin, was an act of betrayal.
And when Azmin won, a sex video was leaked a few months later, purportedly of Azmin committing an act quite similar to that for which Anwar was incarcerated in 2000, and again in 2015, both of which he claimed he had been victimised.
Almost immediately after Azmin’s video went viral, many of Anwar’s boys openly called for Azmin’s removal from Dr Mahathir’s cabinet and be charged for the sexual offences.
Those who were not Anwar’s fans were of the opinion that if there was anyone who would have sympathised with Azmin’s plight it would be Anwar and his supporters as Azmin was among the leading personalities opposing the Government when Anwar had faced charges of those offences.
If Anwar was heralded by his supporters as a courageous fighter for standing up against the cases he was charged with, wouldn’t it be reasonable for Azmin to muster whatever means he could to retaliate to the ones that did him in?
Is it any surprise that he decided to betray someone who had earlier betrayed him and in fact, Azmin’s betrayal should probably be defined as retaliation to Anwar’s betrayal.
Such an idea, yet again, will not be acceptable to those already trapped in a cultish stupor.
Since betrayal is of essence and support for Anwar to be PM is to be the nation’s redemption, those besotted should probably reflect on how good Anwar was at playing Judas as well as others in PKR.
Then there was Tun Ghafar Baba or later, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim —a victim of the Kajang Move.
Not to be forgotten is the nepotism and cronyism charges levelled at Dr Mahathir when he and Anwar were both heading Umno.
Repentance, albeit temporary, only came after walls on the Putra World Trade Centre was plastered with lists of recipients of Government and Government-linked projects when they showed Anwar and Zahid Hamidi, then hanging on Anwar’s coattails, were among the biggest beneficiary.
Before long, they were back at it and the IMF and reformasi became tools to a very lofty end.
And for 30 pieces of silver, and more, much, much more.
Shamsul Akmar is an editor at The Malaysian Reserve.