After a gruelling three weeks or so of battling in the Tanjung Piai by-elections, finally we are back to our day-to-day works again. It was a devastating results for Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, only managing to obtain only 1,707 votes from the Tanjung Piai voters. Nevertheless there was much lesson to experience from this by-election and learn about the current political scenario of Malaysia.
Based on the results of Tanjung Piai, we can see that the Malaysian political system, political style will remain for quite some time.
The way politics were conducted by political parties will still be the same especially in times of elections. Identity politics will still be used, particularly in terms of ethnicity when it comes to campaigning for votes. It seems that there are certain community that feels that Muslims are to be protected with special privileges. It is still as though that only a person with the same ethnicity will only protect one of their own. Why haven’t we really thought that even Malays can protect Chinese and Indians; or Chinese can also protect the Malay and Indians? Or why don’t we have that mindset that whoever is elected, is a Malaysian, and to entrust his or her ability to protect every Malaysian?
During the by-election campaign, we still notice Ministers, Deputy Ministers and government officials “turun padang” to the constituency to make announcements of development projects be it major or minor. Re-tarring roads are so common that it is a “must-thing” to do in every elections. Despite that, we surely welcome such developments, but why now? Why does it only happens during by-elections? Do we only need by-elections to happen so that the respective constituencies to be given attention? What has the elected representatives been doing?
Negative politics, criticism, and attacking is such a norm in elections that it is as though people vote based on who is the lesser devil. We are focusing so less on who can deliver better progress, who have the better capability to represent the people.
As far as I have read about politics about 20 years ago, politics were played that way back then, and it is still now.
The Tanjung Piai by-election results is also giving a clear indication that a third force, independent party or independent candidate will not strive in Malaysian politics for quite some time. The total number of votes combined among the independent parties and candidates, couldn’t even secure the deposit.
The battle within the two major coalition, Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan will continue until Malaysian voters can accept the rise of a third force, but when?
Based on the campaign and response from the voters of Tanjung Piai, building a third force that really matters in Malaysia will require a huge effort and political education among the public.
It makes us ponder, how does the Tanjung Piai voters voted in this by-election? Are they voting because Barisan Nasional can bring them development? Or are they voting because they are angry towards the rule of Pakatan Harapan? Did any of them ponder if there is an alternative choice that can voice out for them?
I think we still have a long way to go to achieve an effective and matured democractic country.
This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 19th November 2019.