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4:47pm 05/10/2022
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Budget goodies and election in the rain?
By:Sin Chew Daily

Umno will have to face all the consequences if it insists to hold the election during the rainy season.

It is reported that prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob will have an audience with His Majesty Yang di-Pertuan Agong with two very important missions: to brief the King of the 2023 Budget to be tabled on the following day, and to seek His Majesty’s consent to dissolve the parliament to pave way for an early general election.

So, will there be any candy in the upcoming Budget as widely anticipated?

First of all, we will get to know the answer on Friday afternoon. As usual, the 2023 Budget total allocation is expected to be 20.5% of the country’s GDP, with a budgetary deficit around 6% of GDP.

Even with a total allocation of RM355 billion, not more than RM81 billion is going to be set aside for development expenditure. If there is any pleasant surprise, such as financial assistances and subsidies, then we have the GE15 to thank.

For so many years now our government’s operating expenditure, including debt interest and remunerations for civil servants and government pensioners, have expanded almost unchecked, squeezing the budgets supposed to be for the country’s development and public infrastructure investment.

With the ringgit continues to slide against the greenback, public debt burden mounting and costlier imported goods intensifying the inflationary pressure, next year is not going to look any better than this year.

So, will the general election be held earlier this year? So far we still cannot tell for sure.

We have already seen a change of three prime ministers in slightly more than four years, and none has been better than his predecessor. So, having an election early is not a bad idea at all as it gives rival politicians an opportunity to square things out. Who knows we will see the birth of an unexpected savior who will deliver us out of the current doldrums?

As for an early election, Ahmad Zahid has his own way of explaining: to return the power to the rakyat, which really sounds very impressive.

That said, the Umno president has sensed the urgency to hold an election sooner than later, so much so that he would even risk letting the electorate float on a driftwood to cast their ballots.

The US Weather Service has unusually warned American citizens in Malaysia to prepare for possible floods after November, but our meteorological department says it’s not so serious! Well, given their diverging views, we had better take all the precautions just to play safe.

Based on the rainfall records over the past 50 years, we have an average annual rainfall of 2,500 mm, with monthly rainfall of 250 to 330 mm expected during the northeast monsoon months of November through March. Floods are becoming increasingly more common during these wet months nowadays.

If the parliament is dissolved in October, the election will most definitely be held before end of November. And since a November election is almost a sure thing, it must not be held around November 9-10 or 25-26 when high tides are expected.

We have no way to evade the floods if it happens to rain heavily, water levels at major rivers and dams rise, coupled with inevitable seawater intrusion.

All we can do is to closely monitor the water levels of dams and clear up our drain and waterway system to at least bring the damage to a minimum, even though the effort could be a little late if we start only now.

The massive floods last December has served to warn us that we cannot fight the forces of Nature, but that does not mean we must surrender ourselves to fate!

We have good reasons to believe that the election commission will pick the right date for election at the advice of the Met.

Thanks to technological advancement, the accuracy of ten-day weather forecast has been pretty high although making a precise weather forecast one month in advance is not that easy at all.

Minister in the prime minister’s department Wan Junaidi announced on Tuesday that the voting time for the 15th general election will be extended by one hour to give the voters sufficient time to come out and vote.

Does that therefore imply that even in a downpour the voters will still have a little more time to rush to the polling stations across flooded streets?

An extra hour means West Malaysian voters will get to vote between eight in the morning to six in the evening, while their East Malaysian counterparts can do so between seven and five thirty.

If there are no floods during the upcoming monsoon season, that extra one hour for voting is most positively a welcome move. At least voters in heavily populated constituencies in Klang Valley will not need to line up in the rain to vote and can step out of their houses only after the rain has stopped and the sky clears up.

Wan Junaidi said with the Undi-18 and automatic voter registration now in place, the election commission will set up more polling stations and voting channels in a bid to avoid overcrowding.

Indeed, this is absolutely necessary given the fact we will have 7.8 million more voters this time round.

As for postal voting, the EC will abolish some of the conditions set during the 14th general election, meaning any registered Malaysian voters residing overseas can apply to become postal voters.

Some have commented that Umno will have to face all the consequences if it insists to hold the election during the rainy season.

They should count their blessings if the floods arrive only after the election, but what if it starts raining non-stop from late October this year?

All we can say is, let the Almighty decide the outcome of the election!

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