MELAKA (Nov 13): The Melaka state election campaign, which entered the sixth day today, saw a packed schedule that included the presence of the various parties’ highest leaderships turning up to help out their respective candidates.
With just six days left before polling, this final stretch will be akin to a sprint as the parties and individuals who are contesting adopt a more aggressive approach, with some listing nothing fewer than 14 face-to-face programmes a day and this does not include the online campaign being mobilised by their party machinery.
This is to ensure the campaigns fully cover every location, be it villages, housing estates or social activity centres before polling day on Nov 20.
The first week of campaigning was quite slow and more focused on the use of social media as well as vehicles fitted with loudspeakers, besides a few small-scale face-to-face campaigns in accordance with the stipulated standard operating procedure (SOP).
Among them included having breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea, visiting party operations rooms and district polling centres, meetings, prayers, meet-ups with residents and walkabouts at night markets.
Neither the young nor the old candidates took the easy way out as none wanted to be seen as a “loser” although they are well aware that an election is something that is very tiring, what with their programmes beginning early in the morning and not ending until way past midnight.
That’s why the government’s decision to allow all parties, including the Independents, to air their portraits and biodata on Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) from tomorrow is such a relief for all the candidates.
To convince the voters, Barisan Nasional (BN) has made it compulsory for all its 28 candidates to sign a statutory declaration (SD) to prevent them from leaving the party after winning while Perikatan Nasional (PN) has made it mandatory for its candidates to sign the SDs as a commitment to fighting corruption if they are given the mandate.
Other than that, BN further strengthened its commitment by launching its manifesto on Wednesday (Nov 10) while Pakatan Harapan (PH) became the second party to do so on the same day.
PN is set to announce its manifesto tomorrow while Parti Perikatan India Muslim Nasional (IMAN), which is contesting the Machap Jaya State Legislative Assembly seat, will do so next week.
Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra), meanwhile, confirmed that it will not launch any manifesto and, instead, its candidates who are contesting the five state seats in Gadek, Paya Rumput, Pengkalan Batu, Duyong and Sungai Ramai would announce their own manifestos.
“If we contest half the state seats, surely we will announce, but we are contesting five seats only. So, no manifesto will be launched. Instead, the candidates will announce their own as part of their commitment to the areas they will be contesting in,” its president, Datuk Ibrahim Ali, told Bernama.
There is no doubt that the special SOP announced by the Election Commission (EC) on Nov 8 for the Melaka polls, which triggered a sense of unease among political leaders, is seen as making things difficult because the campaigning has to be carried out in extraordinary circumstances but it is important that the SOP is adhered to.
As the saying goes “if there’s a will, there’s a way” and political parties have to accept the SOP as a reality and carry out their campaigning in accordance with the current situation, with the country still struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic.
People’s power is what will be the decider and it is getting closer to the D-Day but, with the SOP proving to be a constraint, parties and individuals contesting the Melaka polls will have to redouble their efforts to gain the trust of the people.
To ensure there is no recurrence of incidents of the ruling government collapsing, all the contesting parties must obtain a mandate of more than 15 seats, which is a simple majority that the state government to be formed on Nov 20 is a stable government and difficult to be challenged.
The EC has set Nov 20 as polling day for the Melaka state election, with early voting on Nov 16, following the dissolution of the state assembly on Oct 4 after four state assemblymen withdrew support for the Chief Minister.
Melaka has 28 state seats with a total of 495,195 registered voters. — Bernama