In GE15, a younger set waits to win

Jahabar Sadiq

In GE15, a new set of voters will likely vote their peers to take over in a change as profound as the 1982 elections that introduced a young Anwar Ibrahim to the masses. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, October 10, 2022.

WHEN Parliament is dissolved as early as today, history will be set as a new set of voters will likely vote their peers to take over in a change as profound as the 1982 elections that introduced a young Anwar Ibrahim to the masses. 

That was 40 years ago when the Dewan Rakyat had 154 seats and Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Barisan Nasional (BN) won the lion’s share of 132 seats. Now there are 222 seats and BN is a pale shadow of itself. 

Today, virtually unknown Ismail Sabri Yaacob has been prime minister for nearly 14 months and Anwar is still trying to snare the top job.  

Apart from him, his fellow Team Wawasan mates such as Muhyiddin Yassin and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi remain in the scene. Another one, Najib Razak, did get the job but lost in 2018 and is now serving a 12-year jail sentence. 

A number of Anwar’s generation are left to run perhaps for the last time but it will be the likes of post-Merdeka babies such as Ismail and those younger such as Khairy Jamaluddin and Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman who will take the charge for the decades to come. 

Some of these politicians prefer general elections before the current Dewan Rakyat mandate expires in July 2023 but Ismail Sabri’s Umno prefers it now, even as the country faces flash floods from inter-monsoon rainstorms. 

They point to the November 29, 1999 snap polls months after Anwar was jailed for abuse of power and Dr Mahathir sought to cement his hold as prime minister. BN lost Terengganu and 14 seats to just get 148 out of the 193 seats in the Dewan Rakyat.  

That was during the monsoon that normally lashed the west coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu, and Pahang. 

The same could repeat itself in the snap polls expected in mid-November but BN politicians believe the aftermath of three governments since the 2018 polls could give them a better chance to win on their own. 

After all, they won the Malacca and Johor state elections convincingly despite those who can now vote automatically when they reach 18 years of age. Those close to the top Umno leaders say youths remain an unknown variable and not an advantage to any of the coalitions vying to win the 15th general election (GE15). 

Other factors include the rather short terms by the Pakatan Harapan (PH), the Perikatan Nasional (PN) and the Ismail Sabri administrations since 2018 that include some common names holding posts in all three governments that could confuse some voters. 

Also, Umno believes Najib’s jail sentence could get them more votes in their strongholds while removing disdain from those who refused to vote in 2018 over the disgraced prime minister’s role in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. 

But it would be a slate of younger candidates appealing to younger voters that will most likely tip the balance in any coalition’s favour for a GE15 victory.  

That would bring Malaysia forward as much as Dr Mahathir did in 1982 when he got rid of the Merdeka generation politicians who served under Tunku Abdul Rahman, Abdul Razak Hussein, and Hussein Onn from the 1950s to the early 1980s. – October 10, 2022.  

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