This general election (GE15) is a tough one for a fence-sitter like me and those in my demographic – middle-class, middle-aged, educated, urban, and Malay.
The last general election was much more clear-cut. The enormity of the 1MDB scandal eclipsed everything else and Pakatan Harapan won.
Unlike my more partisan friends though, I must say I was not completely sure that a PH federal government would be more competent or less corrupt than a Barisan Nasional one. But I was glad they won so that we, as a country, would finally see what that would be like.
Twenty-two months is indeed too short but it gave us a glimpse. Individually, some ministers and deputy ministers performed well.
To be fair, this is also true of past BN governments, but I did like the diversity of the PH government, not just in race but also in terms of gender and age. However, it also felt more fractious and full of upheavals.
I watched disheartened as many good and clean professionals from government-linked companies (GLCs), government-linked investment companies (GLICs), and the civil service whom I knew were culled or put in cold storage.
Policies that fundamentally made sense long-term, that just needed process improvements or re-setting, were dropped wholesale like the goods and services tax (GST).
Malay insecurities were left to be exploited, not helped by a tone-deaf DAP. And, of course, there were the giant internal rifts that led to the Sheraton Move.
If the political analysts and sentiment surveys are right, there will be more fractiousness to come. We will likely see a new type of politics in Malaysia with new coalitions being cobbled together post-GE15 just to form a government.
This makes voters like me wrestle with how to think about voting. PH, BN, Perikatan Nasional, and others all have their pros and cons. All coalitions have people I like and don’t like for different reasons. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is problematic, but so is Anwar Ibrahim.
I’ve aged as a voter since the last general election and become more of a realist. It’s still a tough call.
But in the end, it may come down to who would be strong enough to hold a working coalition together after all the votes have been counted.
I am at an age where stability counts. With politics and Covid-19, we’ve had so many starts and stops these past four years. Let’s just get on with things.