As we are now beginning the last week of the GE15 campaign, it’s time to ponder if there is any benefit to a change of government.
Over the last three years there has been three different governments. This was caused by continuous infighting both between political parties, and within political parties.
We have seen political parties split, lose and gain members through defections, and the formation of more splinter parties now than there has ever been in Malaysian politics.
Winning these political fights where the prize is power has caused so much political instability.
We had an unnecessary state election in Johor, and now we are having an unnecessary federal election.
The motives behind this have been self-serving for a group of politicians who just want to hold onto power. No vision for the rakyat and nation, just the pursuit of self-interest.
Three prime ministers in as many years, yet the cabinet has largely been the same. Leadership in government is more akin to playing musical chairs than any passionate commitment to public policy, administration and service to the rakyat.
This is why the election has been called around eight months early, while the country is facing the monsoon season. Floods are already forcing the cancellation of some political campaigning events.
When the rakyat head to vote on November 19, they must remember these last three years of political instability. The reality is they are going to vote about who will become the next prime minister rather than how we are going to solve national problems.
The question that must be asked is that if a Barisan Nasional government is voted into power, will this install political stability?
If there is a hung parliament and the same old groups negotiate yet another hybrid government, will this install political stability?
Hybrid cabinets just don’t seem to work as well as coalition cabinets. They are just a recipe for more instability.
While all the political infighting has been going on, the money supply has been growing exponentially, the government has been spending money and raising public debt, contributing to inflation imported into the country because of a falling ringgit and disrupted supply chains.
Is there a potential government out there which is willing to tackle this problem head on? BN is promising to spend more if they get back into government.
The 12th Malaysian Plan did not tackle the real structural problems facing the economy. It skirted around reform, promising more of the same, where almost half the capitalization of Bursa Malaysia is controlled by GLCs.
GLCs compete against private enterprises and are preventing the Malaysian economy’s jump from being rent-seeking based to one based upon innovation.
The Malaysian government needs new sources of diversity. A stint of Pakatan in government will rejuvenate Malaysian democracy.
Every bumiputera class F contractor knows that lucrative government tenders and contracts are a matter of cables, not professionality, efficiency, quality and service. The distribution of opportunity must be made fairer.
The ranks of government have been full of businesspeople. Are these people part-time politicians or businesspeople?
Politicians who pledge to serve the people are needed. After all, the rakyat look after them. Once elected to parliament, there is a pension for life waiting for them.
When a government has been in power for too long, it becomes tired, complacent, deficient in new ideas and corrupt. This is not just in Malaysia, but around the world, and why we saw in the US a dramatic shift in the balance of power in the Congress earlier in the week.
New governments are popping up in Europe, replacing the old, with new approaches to solving problems.
Pakatan Harapan only had around 20 months in office. Their leader Mahathir Mohamed is the nemesis of Reformasi. This shackled the Pakatan government where the agenda was anything but Reformasi.
Mahathir’s choice of education minister was more interested in what color shoes children wore than improving proficiency in STEM subjects.
For this Pakatan paid dearly. There was never any transition to Anwar Ibrahim as promised. Pakatan never had the opportunity to show Malaysians what they could really do.
This time round, there is a mix of the old reformasi traditionalist and youth in the GE15 line-up.
Anwar Ibrahim has said himself he will steer Pakatan towards a transition to a new generation of leadership.
Malaysian politics needs new faces at the cabinet table, not the musical chairs we have seen over the last three years.
A Malaysian government needs new sources of diversity.
A stint of Pakatan in government will rejuvenate Malaysian democracy.
If Pakatan can’t govern and live up to its promises, then the rakyat can throw them out at the next election. It would be the duty of the rakyat to do so.
The rakyat also have a duty to tell the current crop of politicians to go into opposition and sort out all their issues there.
Time in opposition will strengthen the former governing parties, and make them a better government one day.
Only then can Umno find the new leaders it needs to regenerate the party into something relevant for 2027. Staying in government won’t achieve that.
Now it’s up to the rakyat to teach the current government a lesson, so that when they come back to govern, they will do better.
It’s also time to give the “prime minister in waiting” his shot at leading Malaysia into the transition the nation desperately needs.
This could be the legacy of GE15.
(Murray Hunter has been involved in Asia-Pacific business for the last 40 years as an entrepreneur, consultant, academic and researcher. He was an associate professor at Universiti Malaysia Perlis.)