The most intense but hushed election war in Melaka

Sin Chew Daily

Nomination for the Melaka state election was on Monday while voting will be next Saturday.

According to our reporter in the frontline, this is going to be the most intensely fought but also the quietest election war in Melaka’s history.

It’s going to be a very intense war because BN and PN have decided to go separate ways in this election, each fielding its own candidates. This, coupled with the powerful challenge from the opposition PH camp, has created bitter three- to six-cornered fights for all the state’s 28 seats.

It is also the quietest because strict SOPs have been enforced at all nomination stations, and non-candidates have been kept away.

In the past, supporters would tend to wave their party flags and shout slogans in a party-like atmosphere. All this has been canceled thanks to the pandemic.

Over the next two weeks, candidates will not be allowed to go door-to-door to visit the voters, or hold massive free dinners. On the bright note, undesirable vote-buying tactics could be put to a momentary halt this time round.

If campaign activities are not permitted, then how do the voters know who their candidates are? What about their political philosophies and views?

Fret not! There are ways to find out!

First and foremost, Melaka is only a tiny state measuring 1,664 sq km. On average, each of its constituencies is only around 60 sq km. Even on normal days getting to chance upon the candidates in the street is not that difficult at all.

Next, Sin Chew Daily has come up with a special supplement on the Melaka state election, offering the latest updates to allow the voters to get to know their candidates better.

To a candidate who is truly capable with a squeaky clean record, a rowdy election campaign event therefore may not appear that important after all.

In this election, a candidate who accurately evaluates the situation and deploys the most optimal strategy will have the last laugh, not unlike a badminton player who makes the fewest mistakes on the court.

According to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, if you think you can win the war before it begins, that is because you already have fine plans in place and have identified the winning solutions. If you don’t even have confidence you will win the war, that must be because you don’t have proper planning and sure enough you lack the conditions to win the war! But more importantly, the more you plan, the more likely you will win. How to win if you don’t even care to plan?

Let’s start with Anwar Ibrahim, who was the biggest victim of the country’s “frog” culture in politics and has later vociferously advocated anti-hopping law.

But then this same gentleman now accepts Melaka’s “Gang of Four” including former CM Idris Haron, arguing that these people would help PH win back Melaka.

By his argument, withdrawing support for PN is not considered betrayal because the state administration should have belonged to PH in the very first place!

What? For a frog to jump into the right pond is not construed as defection? Unfortunately the Chinese voters may not buy into this idea!

So, DAP is trying to distance itself from the Gang of Four. The party’s sec-gen Lim Guan Eng has said PH may not benefit from three-cornered fights by fielding the “frogs” in the state election, while national chairman Tan Kok Wai asserts that frogs will always remain frogs and his party will not campaign for frogs running on a PKR or Amanah ticket.

From this incident we can see that Anwar is not just planning less or nothing, but rather give up planning! Meanwhile, DAP is planning more. As such, the party may be rewarded for its strong “anti-frog” attitude when facing off with BN’s MCA or PN’s Gerakan.

As for MCA, can any of its seven candidates ever make a dent after these three years of dramatic political turbulence?

If we were to analyze based on the party’s votes in the last election, coupled with the fact it has to fight both DAP and Gerakan in some of the constituencies this time, to win any seat at all could be a mounting task for the party. MCA should celebrate if it manages to get some Chinese votes back to its fold.

It is a pity for BN to have failed in seat negotiations with PN. Judging from the outcome of the last GE, even though PAS lost in all the six seats it contested, there should be no problem for Umno-PAS to win these seats if the two parties work together.

That said, BN has had its plans in this war. If it were to go with Bersatu and PAS, it may even up running only 15 seats or fewer, instead of 20 now. As such, it has opted to take the risk and go its own way this time, and the outcome should serve as a good barometer for the general election which will be held within the next two years.

Additionally, the supporters of BN and PN may adopt a “tactical voting” strategy if they don’t want PH to benefit from the three-cornered fights. In that case, Umno which has had a strong presence in Melaka for decades may very likely win the election.

Although it appears to be three-cornered fights all over, in the end it will very likely be just the head-on clash between Umno and PH. If PN is brutally beaten in Melaka, we might as well conclude that Bersatu’s days are just numbered!


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