I vowed to myself I would not make the same mistake I did with the US presidential election, which is not calling it when I have a strong gut feeling over the result. I’ve never been good at trusting my own instinct and analysis, but I’m not going to make the same mistake again. Before I end up sounding pretentious if it is announced soon we are going to have an election, let me put it in words NOW: the Malaysian 14th general election will be held by the end of the year. Maybe some of you would say, “We know that!”, that is not necessarily the consensus. I have a bet going on with someone who works in the industry—the political industry that is—who is so confident the prime minister will not call the election until 2018. However, in a year, so many things could go wrong and it would be an opportunity missed for the government.
Here’s my take on it.
Firstly, the economy is rebounding. Before some of you diehard Pakatan supporters come at me saying both of your pockets have been burned, I ask you to think again. How many of you have gone on a holiday within the first five months of 2017? How many of you have your baju rayas nicely hung in your wardrobe even though Ramadhan is still two weeks away? Yes, GST was an evil creation by the government, but following some setbacks in domestic consumerism (which is still ongoing), Malaysians have now adjusted their spending habits without compromising their economic sentiment. All those rumblings on the street, though definitely founded, are not really represented in the numbers. Our exports went up in the first quarter on 2017, and our growth has been projected above earlier expectations. Unemployment rate is still manageable, even though our youths are still struggling to find good jobs. We can guess which side the youths are voting for. But otherwise, 1MDB has settled their debt, which is good for Malaysians who have always had short-term memory.
Secondly, it is mighty stupid for the government not to take advantage of the chaos that is the opposition pact. Sure, some have pointed out that it is a good start for the opposition to come up with one banner. But the question is, who is going to stay under that banner? A populist party, a leftist party, a rejected-by-UMNO party, and all the other opportunists who do not care about finding a common ground to work together from the get-go. Let’s just start with how ideologically apart they are. They are a coalition of convenience, not a coalition of governance. There is nothing wrong with that. We do practice first-past-the-post in our electoral system and they are just strategizing as any political party should. But their strategy can be thrown out the window if they cannot find an agreement with PAS. The way I see it, so long as the current leadership is still at the helm of PAS, the party will not compromise its principle in exchange for seats. Admirable, definitely; risky, they know that.
Finally, I’m going to predict that the next election will be held sometime between September and November of this year. In my humble opinion, it would be a waste if the government does not seize the opportunity to hold the election in September. The Malays would have just celebrated Eid ul-Adha, thus a celebratory feeling would still be in the air. Malaysians would have just experienced a feeling of coming together following the SEA Games, which uncoincidentally would end on our National Day. Malaysians would be on a high with a camaraderie spirit that has been missing for a few years. Diwali would be around the corner so the Indians would also be in a joyful spirit. They can’t hold it too close to the end of the year because everybody is leaving for their annual trip oversea (remember how we are not short on money for travelling?). Even though my betting partner said that the government would be too busy with the SEA Games, I argued that it is exactly what the government needs.
Oh, and another indicator that GE-14 is right around the corner is the mudslinging that has been going on in the media for close to two months now. The machinery is oiled and greased.