Too costly to hold snap polls

By Doreenn Leong

THE country is still plagued by economic and political uncertainties and news of a possible snap election by year-end is likely to further exacerbate the situation.

For one, it is not cheap to hold elections and we do not want to spend more taxpayers money on it as the country needs a huge amount of cash to keep the economy going amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

Malaysians made a choice when they voted in a new Pakatan Harapan government in May 2018. Their choice should be respected and a reasonable time, i.e. five years, should be given to the mandated government to prove its worth. That’s what democracy is all about.

According to Malaysia’s Election Commission chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun, it would cost anywhere between RM700 mil and RM800 mil to conduct a snap general election if there is a need for one.

He said the 14th General Election in May 2018 cost between RM500 mil and RM600 mil to run and the cost will go up. The cost of over half a billion to hold an election is certainly enormous. Surely, the money could be better spent to revive the economy and save SMEs and jobs.

It is totally irresponsible of any government to hold a snap election at a time like this. To date, three economic stimulus packages totalling RM280 bil have been announced to cope with the impact from the Covid-19 pandemic and more money is expected to be pumped into the system to ensure our economy doesn’t collapse.

The country is in a political mess as the backdoor government under Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is trying to stay in power via a razor-thin majority.

According to Singapore’s Straits Times, he is seeking a firm mandate as there are many uncertainties over the support he garners in parliament. It doesn’t help that Muhyiddin is constantly challenged by the opposition to reveal the numbers.

The opposition has sought a confidence vote in the parliament but wasn’t able to do so. That’s because the business of the Dewan Rakyat sitting was amended to feature only the Royal address for the opening of Parliament sitting by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah due to the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

The meeting of the 222 Members of Parliaments for the first meeting, Third Term of the 14th Parliament was originally scheduled for March 9 to April 16, but was postponed May 18.

Within the new Perikatan Nasional ruling coalition, Muhyiddin’s party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia holds a minority stake and may not have sufficient power to call the shots.

Umno holds the lion’s share of parliamentary seats in the coalition, and it is also backed by PAS.

Voters two years ago ousted the Barisan Nasional from power. Their decision should be respected.

Instead of a costly election, the right thing for Muhyiddin to do is to hand back the baton to PH and wait for another two to three years to earn his position via the ballot box. It is never too late to return the people’s mandate.