WE are so close to the 14th General Election (GE14).
The pundits and commentators will try to predict the exact date. But regardless of when it will happen, what is certain is that everyone is already in “election mode”. The political temperature of the country has gone up a notch or two over the past few months.
Announcements are being made about candidates, speculation is rife about who the potential candidates are, and the various political coalitions have started to introduce their respective manifestos.
Soon, election fever will engulf the whole nation.
It will be a keenly contested general election. Pakatan Harapan is looking to end the unbroken rule of Barisan Nasional. It will be a battle between the uncertainties of change, and the predictability of the status quo.
The messy divorce of PAS from the Opposition coalition means that the party is now the kingmaker or spoiler, depending on which side of the divide one is partial to.
Also in the mix are the boycott and #UndiRosak movements, as well as the general apathy towards politics that is becoming increasingly prevalent. All these amount to an interesting time to be living in Malaysia, especially if one is interested in politics.
GE12 in 2008 significantly changed politics in Malaysia. Not least because it resulted in a stronger and more cohesive Opposition. Political parties and coalitions must work hard to gain support or garner votes from the electorate.
The contest for votes has resulted in a richer and more vibrant democracy.
Unfortunately, the battle for power through winning votes has also brought about the ugly side of politics. To appeal to certain segments of the electorate, race and religion have become tools in the political arena.
Indeed, identity and race have long been a part of our political culture. Our political parties organise themselves along racial and religious lines, either de facto or de jure. But worryingly, in the past decade, race and religion are used in a manner that threatens our multiracial society.
We witnessed it at the last elections, and we are seeing it in the lead-up to the upcoming elections. Politicians are using race and religion to further their political agenda, painting “the other” as enemies and threats, and pitting communities against each other to gain support.
It is time to put a stop to such politics. GE14 presents an opportunity for the rakyat to reject the sort of politics that may threaten to unravel the very fabric of our nation.
The rakyat can send a clear message to all political parties and candidates that despite everything, we still hold certain things as sacred and beyond politics. No one should get away with hurting the country for the sake of power.
Syahredzan Johan is a partner of a legal firm in Kuala Lumpur with an interest in the laws that shape our country. He can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.
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