THE spirit of the constitution in having a general election (GE) once every five years is obviously to prevent a waste of resources because it is not cheap to hold a GE.
The cost of holding GE14 was RM500 million, and it could cost RM1.2 billion or more to hold a snap election today, taking into account how Covid has not been completely wiped out, and an unprecedented global inflation taking place.
Hence, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob is spot on when, in an interview with a Japanese daily, said this is not the right time to hold an election, as the interest and welfare of the people are paramount and need to be taken care of by mitigating the impact of high inflation through measures to stem the higher cost of food and energy.
And the RM2 billion to be used for a snap election now is not peanuts. The monies will be better spent on both remedial and proactive measures to assist the rakyat in facing the high cost of living brought about by the spiralling inflation.
It is quite amazing the court cluster has criticised the PM for focusing on the impact of high inflation to help the rakyat instead of holding a snap election, dismissing inflation as a three-year cycle.
Even if this is true, this won’t be the normal high inflation of the same old, same old that we are used to.
The current rise in inflation is the result of the confluence of three separate factors – the pandemic with its excess pent-up of aggregate demand due to the economy reopening – which supply won’t be able to meet due to supply chain disruptions, climate change and the war in Ukraine.
Hence, the intensity of the people’s suffering would be unprecedented for the next three years. So much for the court cluster’s “populist” idea of helping the rakyat by letting people withdraw their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) savings until most workers especially the Bumiputeras go broke on their EPF savings.
Now their agenda to help the rakyat is replaced with spending RM2 billon to organise a snap election.
Hence, Padang Rengas MP Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz is also spot on in describing those calling for a snap election very “selfish and irresponsible”.
At present, Malaysia and many Southeast Asian countries are fortunate with the inflation rate, although bad is not bad enough like the situation in Eurozone countries, where it is in the region of more than 7%, brought about by energy prices soaring to more than 30% and food prices up to 7.5%, the cost of industrial goods by 4.2%, and services by 3.5% in May alone.
But this does not mean Malaysia will be immune to the runaway inflation like the one experienced by Eurozone countries now. We will definitely be “infected” with this spiralling inflation the longer the pandemic and the Ukraine war last, and the more supply chain and climate change issues are not handled judiciously.
The difference between having a GE now and having it when it is due is just this: having it now gives Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) the best chance of winning BIG. Still, it’s just a chance not a certainty! More important is what’s in it for the rakyat if Umno wins BIG? Directly – NOTHING!