It was quite a dramatic day, given the string of disqualifications of Pakatan Harapan candidates.
The most searing image is that of the PKR candidate Dr S Streram trying hard to submit his nomination papers but being blocked by police, apparently for the flimsiest of reasons (a miserable entry pass?). This leaves the caretaker menteri besar of Negri Sembilan an almost free run in retaining the seat.
These disqualifications could backfire on BN though. In closely fought elections like this, a lot depends on perceptions during the campaign period. Many PH supporters and fence-sitters – and the latter matter a lot now – are left feeling aggrieved at a few of the ‘technical’ decisions that were made today to disqualify PH candidates, the other being Tian Chua in the Batu parliamentary seat. (Speaking of Batu, the only parliamentary seat affected, all may not be lost: PH will no doubt want to check out the two independent candidates there to see if either of them could be roped in as a proxy.)
This widespread perception of injustice today will only harden the resolve of many to go all out to defeat BN on polling day. For them, the Electoral Commission’s credibility could not have sunk much lower.
Maybe the lesson to learn is for all candidates to have contingency or back-up plans next time around.
What a pity though that PSM and PH couldn’t reach a compromise in Sungai Siput, which PSM’s Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, one of the most public-spirited and principled politicians around, could have retained. With PH putting up a candidate there, thus splitting the opposition vote even further (Pas is also contesting), BN will be fancying its chances there now. This was not the wisest of moves, and Jeyakumar will have his work cut out for him.
The other video that must have touched the hearts of many was this one about Mahathir’s encounter with “Aishah” and her brother:
There, Mahathir concedes he made mistakes and he is trying to put things right. His emotions and expression of regret seem genuine enough for me – and I had been critical of him for three decades, until last year, when he stepped up to the plate.
The reception he received in Langkawi was rapturous, and he remains the principal game-changer in this general election. If there is anyone who could spearhead the momentum for change to dislodge Umno-BN, it has to be him.
The establishment probably realises this, and perhaps that’s why we are seeing all these restrictions and obstacles being put in the path of opposition parties. So to me, that is a ‘good’ sign.
What’s your take?