By K Veeriah
It is intriguing that Umno is portraying itself as a game-changer in the run-up to the general election.
Its leaders appear confident of victory even without Pas, citing the outcome of the elections in Malacca and Johor. Buoyed by their performance in these state elections, they seem to think they can coast to Putrajaya.
While it is acceptable to adopt an optimistic attitude, Umno needs to shed its blinkered narrative in view of developments after the Malacca and Johor state elections.
When Malacca and Johor went to the polls, Najib Razak was still the poster boy for Umno and Barisan Nasional. Back then, the narrative that he was a victim of political persecution may well have made a difference.
But since the Federal Court upheld his conviction, Umno-BN cannot play the “political persecution” song any longer. What more when Umno president Zahid Hamidi said, in no uncertain language, that he had placed his trust in the judiciary’s integrity from “day one”, thus unwittingly endorsing Najib’s conviction.
Whilst Zahid has sought comfort in his acquittal, there ought to be rumblings within Umno’s die-hard “Bossku” admirers when comparing Zahid’s acquittal with Najib’s conviction. That may well make a difference among a segment of the Umno voters.
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Many voters will not forget nor forgive the ‘Sheraton’ defectors, who brought down the democratically elected Pakatan Harapan government. These voters are likely to show their disdain not only towards Umno-BN but also Bersatu and other individuals who helped to dislodge the legitimate PH government.
Meanwhile, the youth have now been empowered to cast their votes for their choice of government, with the lowering of the minimum voting age to 18. They can make a difference in the election.
Many young voters are likely to vote for a transformation of the political landscape with an emphasis on key issues such as the eradication of race-based politics, climate change, food security, affordable healthcare and meritocracy.
But that is easier said than done simply because young voters are not necessarily partial to the politics of the opposition. Thus, the challenge for the opposition is to adapt to these youthful aspirations by coming up with a youth-centred manifesto.
As we move towards an ageing population, the ‘old horses’ have a moral obligation to ensure a youth succession plan is in place – for the youth are the hope for a nation without race-based politics.
Central to the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government were the unprincipled ‘frogs’ or political defectors. With a law to curb such defections now in place, this era of ‘frog hopping’ should no longer be a cause of concern.
Political parties now cannot scheme to attract elected representatives with the lure of positions or financial gain.
Interestingly, this new law has placed the onus on political parties to go out and win the numbers they need to form the next government.
Pundits, however, say the likelihood of a single political entity securing an absolute majority is almost impossible.
But then, miracles do happen!
K Veeriah is a veteran trade unionist based in Bukit Mertajam, Penang