It is a Malaysian wave of discontent

All the arguments have centred around how Umno, and its president are single handedly responsible for the “green wave,” which continues to sweep through the nation. This is not really the case, is it?

(FMT) – The recent state elections show that the government needs quick economic wins, less ‘empty’ talk, and to stop portraying the other side as ‘evil’.

The state elections are over and what did we glean from them?

The result is that the status quo remains at 3-3. But most of the commentaries focus on Umno’s impending sink into oblivion.

The move to remove its president seems to be gathering momentum. Analysts have devoted much time and energy to spell out in precise detail the problems within Umno, and they are all squarely placing the blame at the feet of the corruption tainted president of the party.

Having repeatedly shouted at every “ceramah” before the last general elections “No Anwar, No DAP”, he now sits in Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s cabinet as his first deputy, and in a government that DAP has the largest number of lawmakers. Perhaps, his reneging of this browbeating promise prior to the elections has come back to bite him with a vengeance.

The federal government will not fall in the immediate aftermath of the state elections. But all is not well in the rest of the unity government’s camp, is it?

A major loser was the prime minister’s own PKR party. In Selangor they had 21 seats prior to the polls only to return with 12, now. And in Penang, the PM saw a damning indictment in his “ancestral family” constituency, by losing all the three state assembly seats to the opposition.

PKR seems to be on a trajectory downwards, as well. And, the more his party slides, the more the prime minister loses his moral authority to lead the PH coalition, and ergo the government. PN will surely capitalise on this, and scream from mountain tops that this is essentially a DAP dominated government, even with a less than reflective number of cabinet posts.

Penang is also far from sitting comfortably in the PH stable.

From having a meagre three representatives prior to last week, the opposition now has 11 seats in the state assembly. Of course, this makes for a robust democracy. The people need an opposition in their midst. Absolute power is always dangerous. But the trend must be worrying for the unity government, and particularly for DAP.

This, coupled with DAP’s own internal power struggles. I am sure it did not go unnoticed that the usually genial, amiable, and good-natured Chow Kon Yeow, took the bull by the horns, and announced PH’s victory in Penang, while simultaneously declaring that he would be retained as Chief Minister for a second term. There were glaring and notable absentees during his declaration.

The other Malay-Muslim coalition partner in the unity government, Amanah, also lost seats. So, are they still relevant in the scheme of things?

Such is the backlash of discontent that even “public enemy no. 1” Azmin Ali won his seat for the opposition in Hulu Kelang. Amirudin Shari, the caretaker menteri besar during the elections, attributed Azmin’s win to low voter turnout, and pointed towards his slim majority of 1,617 votes.

But Amirudin did not disclose that Azmin overturned a 15,349-majority held by PH from the previous state election. This puts Azmin’s victory into perspective. The swing was massive. So, from diligently voting PH in 2013 and 2018, and giving them sizeable majorities, the Hulu Kelang voters opted for the terribly tainted Azmin Ali.

It is a strong and formidable show of displeasure by the voters towards the prime minister, PH, and this unity government. But all the arguments have centred around how Umno, and its president are single handedly responsible for the “green wave,” which continues to sweep through the nation.

This is not really the case, is it? PH itself has undercurrents of discontent within its ranks.

We saw that the biggest winner in these elections was PN, and in particular, PAS. They swept the overall popular vote across the state elections. Pro-unity government strategists claim that PN’s gains are limited to the coalition leveraging anger, solely among the Malays.

But the anger has grown exponentially. And, this time around, the low turnout by Chinese and Indian voters, also shows that this resentment is slowly but surely seeping into other communities too. Our cost of living has sky-rocketed, and every day economic issues are not being addressed.

To attribute the surge in support for PN to Malay fury alone is one dimensional.

There is an increasing trust deficit in PH and the unity government. Since 2018, the expectation of reform and change has dominated the minds of the public. But to date, we seem to be fed a steady diet of “the same old, same old” by PH, and the unity government.

Economic hardship affects all Malaysians, not just the Malay community.

Liberals and non-Malays now fear that the unity government will go into overdrive to pander to the hinterland, radical Islamists, and the parochial demands of the so-called “green-wave.” While the outpouring of support for the opposition is real, perhaps the strategists in the government should stop demonising this green wave, and start listening to the displeasure and woes of the people.

This government needs quick economic wins, less “empty” talk, and they have to stop portraying the other side as “evil.” If the government can go on a drive of healing, reconciliation, and reconnecting with the people, by being cognisant of our needs, and actually providing us relief, it is plausible that this wave will dissipate.

It is not just a Malay green wave; it is a Malaysian wave of discontent.