Malaccans found an election thrust upon them, almost two years earlier than expected, after their state government collapsed following the defection of four assemblypersons from the state's ruling coalition.
The election is now a matter of when - within 60 days from the dissolution of the State Legislative Assembly on Oct 5, as set out by the State Constitution, or a federally-imposed emergency, with the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, to postpone the election beyond the 60-day deadline.
A straw poll found many in the state to have differing opinions. On one hand, some are worried that Malacca will be the new Sabah, which held its state polls in September last year and unleashed a devastating wave of Covid-19 in the country, which has claimed more than 26,000 lives.
Here's what those who are worried have to say:
"Covid-19 numbers are still high, especially in Malacca, and we don’t want the Sabah incident to repeat here, causing another wave in the future. Two, dissolving the assembly was done improperly, in haste.” - Munisamy, 68, retiree
"We should give it more time for the daily Covid-19 cases to decline first. Having standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place doesn’t guarantee that Covid-19 would not spread. We should learn from what happened last year, in the election in Sabah.
"The numbers are going down, so we should not mess it up again and risk the cases increasing. The well-being of the people should be of greater value than political issues. That is why I think that the election should be postponed at least.” - Andrina Sequerah, 25, accounts executive
"My nephew is working at Malacca Hospital and the stories he tells me are very concerning. The doctors, nurses and caretakers are all exhausted and overworked. Maybe we could use our resources to do something for them at this point instead of the election. Once the cases are at a manageable number, we can maybe think about having an election.” - Wong Kea Hee, 51, branch manager
On the other hand, most of the adult population are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
As a sign of confidence in the recovery, the government lifted the interstate travel ban effective today as the adult vaccination threshold crossed 90 percent.
Coincidentally, this would also allow people to return home in order to vote. Here's what those in favour of the election have to say:
“I think we should go for the election because the state assembly was dissolved by the state governor and the Health Ministry has already provided us with the SOP to follow in the case of an election.” - Bobby Selvarajan, 70, retiree
“I think we should continue with the election and respect the decision of the governor. After all, he is the head of state. We should have the election to respect the public’s constitutional right to vote. There are SOPs given by the Health Ministry in place and we should trust in them and follow the SOPs accordingly, so that we can vote safely.” - Ayasamy, 77, retiree
While some Malaccans acknowledge the SOPs to curb the spread of Covid-19, they expressed scepticism at people's attitude towards the disease. Here's what they have to say:
“To me, I don’t think an election right now is necessary due to the current pandemic. The cases are just starting to go down. Even though the Health Ministry would impose SOPs when we go to vote, I don’t think the public would follow it as strictly as they should during the election.” - Ainurasyiqin, 24, staff nurse
“I think having an election is fine, as long as there are very strict SOPs in place... But knowing how people are, they are bound to not comply as strictly. So, I’d rather not have it in the meantime.” - Georgina Elizabeth Dawson, 22, student
Others, on the other hand, are angry that an election is being thrust upon them due to political conniving.
“It is definitely not a smart move to have an election now. It is a clear indicator that the government is not bothered at all about the rakyat’s safety, with the pandemic within our community... The Conference of Rulers or the Yang di-Pertuan Agong should step in because our governor is not functioning. Also, the politicians should clear themselves of all corruption cases first, before dreaming of becoming leaders of the rakyat.” - Nur Elisya Edina Badul Shahly, 23, student
“I think it is a childish and petty tug of war between politicians who cannot prioritise... Is the risk of having an election to sate privileged people's need for power worth it? No. Their perverted power play games are something I’m not interested in. I’m not voting and I won’t be bothered to.” - Melizza Wong, 25, legal and compliance executive
"I am also afraid that if I go out and vote now, risking my life for the state and country for the election, the assemblypersons I vote for would be hopping parties, just like what happened the last time.” - Chellapa, 75, retiree
“I find that the political scenario in Malacca was an attempted coup for a certain individual to regain his power to govern. It was an Umno member dishonouring the party... If it was true that the leadership of the chief minister (Sulaiman Md Ali) was bad, the ones who overthrew him should have given solid evidence to the people instead of talking nonsense and tarnishing his image... I also believe that we should wait out the recovery period before voting, be it state or national elections.” - Nurul Asyikin Erwan, 25, assistant manager
Umno's Sungai Udang assemblyperson Idris Haron, a former Malacca chief minister from 2013 to 2018, had sought to oust his party colleague Sulaiman as the chief minister.
In an apparent attempt to fulfil his ambition for a political comeback as the chief minister, Idris recruited three other assemblypersons, namely Umno's Pantai Kundor assemblyperson Nor Azman Hassan, Bersatu's Telok Mas assemblyperson Noor Effandi Ahmad and independent assemblyperson Norhizam Hassan Baktee (Pengkalan Batu), who previously defected from DAP.
The Umno and Bersatu rogues have since been sacked by their parties.
The BN-PN government in Malacca came to power in March 2020 after it ousted the democratically-elected Pakatan Harapan-led state government through defections.
Controlling 17 out of 28 assemblypersons in the Malacca state assembly, the BN-PN coalition governed for almost two years before its numbers were reduced to 13.
This was after Idris' group of four rebels withdrew support for Sulaiman's government and courted Harapan to form a new state government.
However, Idris was outmanoeuvred when Sulaiman asked for a dissolution of the state assembly and Malacca Governor Mohd Ali Rustam, who is an Umno man and served as chief minister from 1999 to 2013, agreed.
The dissolution was gazetted on Oct 5, paving way for fresh polls within 60 days.
However, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob can seek a localised emergency, similar to the one declared in Sarawak, to postpone the Malacca state election beyond the deadline.