The decisive moment has arrived for Malaysians to choose a government they will live with for the next five years.
It’s election year. All Malaysians are eagerly looking forward to casting their ballots for a government of their liking. The choice is clear-cut: give Barisan Nasional another mandate to rule the country or pick Pakatan Rakyat to lead the way. BN desperately wants to hold on to power because a defeat will mean terrible retribution for BN leaders. Pakatan badly seeks political mastery because a rout at the polls will spell a permanent end to its ambition of ever making it to the national stage. The stakes are high. A slip, however slight, can be fatal to the fortune of either rival.
Now the fate of the country is in the hands of the people. They are the power brokers who will decide which party will form the next government. They can make or break a government. All politicians contesting for a seat will be grovelling before them for their votes. In that short period of intense campaigning, the politicians will be putting on their best behaviour – blowing kisses and hugging the masses. They will turn themselves into instant servants of the people.
Who to vote for? Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has the answer: Vote for BN so that he can continue with all his mind-numbing and mind-boggling mega projects. Can we trust the BN again? This election is like no other elections. In the past, a general election was just one big yawn. There was no serious challenge to the BN and the people, as expected, would vote in the same boring government. In this 13th face-off, the game has changed. BN is staring at possible defeat at the hands of Pakatan because the people now have a strong, credible opposition which can step up and take command of the country.
Based on the past record of the incumbent government, there is no reason for the people to fall in love with an old face, now bloated and twisted after years of feeding on the riches of the land. Najib’s government has repeatedly trampled on the views of the ordinary people and muffled the cry for justice. It ordered the bloody assault on citizens on the streets of Kuala Lumpur all because they wanted clean elections and an end to dirty politics.
The catalogue of misdeeds of the BN government is long: blatant abuse of power, chronic misuse of public funds, pervasive corruption at high places, unrestrained police brutality, constant marginalising of the minority, callous disregard for the feelings of the indigenious people, deliberate destruction of the environment, obsessively enriching the few while ruthlessly impoverishing the many, and the list goes on for miles and miles. People have experienced what is it like to live under a government which has lost its moral compass.
Who to vote for? Pakatan spreads the word that it is the best alternative to BN. It preaches the virtues of its style of governance as exemplied in the states it controlled. It is forever on the side of the downtrodden and forever championing human rights. But the people have no way of knowing how Pakatan will behave when it captures power at the federal level. It does not have the expertise and the skills to manage a country. That is its major weakness. Pakatan is an unknown factor and a victory for the fledgling coalition is probably an invitation to an uncertain future.
Pakatan has a strong leader in Anwar Ibrahim. The opposition chief is an old face who once wore an Umno mask. He will be the best choice for Pakatan to replace Najib in the event of a change of guards at Putrajaya. A question then arises: can he be trusted since he is regarded as an opportunist, a turncoat, a chameleon, a racist? Worse still: will he be toppled in an internal revolt which will see the emergence of the dreaded PAS? For sure, the Islamist party and its bedfellow, the DAP, will never see eye to eye when it comes to PAS’ cherished agenda to establish an Islamic state. A quarrel over such a sensitive issue may plunge the country into a maelstrom of religious conflict.
Who to vote for? BN or Pakatan? Najib or Anwar? BN has a proven record of misrule while Pakatan has yet to show its skills at statecraft on a bigger stage. As a general rule, voters will always throw out prime ministers or presidents who bungle at their job. They will vote for change to stop the rot. More importantly, an aspirant for the highest office on land must have an unblemished personal background. Najib and Anwar are no angels because they each spots a stain.
The moment has arrived to make your choice. This election is all about change or status quo. Seeking a future as certain as the past – voting for BN – may not be good because the evil of misrule may rear its ugly head again. Embracing change – a nod for Pakatan – may usher in a new era of fair governance but may not guarantee permanent peace. BN or Pakatan? Better the devil you know or the devil you don’t? A difficult choice to make but one that has to be made for better or worse.