State elections are not the way to boost tourism, kickstart the economy

Somewhere within the Melaka State Legislative Assembly halls, someone must have hit upon the idea to boost the state’s lagging tourism industry.

The conversation could have probably gone something like this: “Eh, Datuk Seri, our economy is dying. The chief minister is flip-flopping as to whether to open the borders. What should we do?

For the record, Melaka was to be part of the country’s ‘travel bubble’ from Oct 1, but Chief Minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali initially declined the opportunity, before changing his mind.

Coincidentally, the state government fell earlier this week after Sungai Udang assemblyman Datuk Seri Idris Haron (Umno), Pantai Kundor assemblyman Datuk Nor Azman Hassan (Umno), Telok Mas assemblyman, Noor Effandi Ahmad (Bersatu) and independent lawmaker Datuk Norhizam Hassan Baktee declared that they had lost confidence in Sulaiman, who is from Umno. (https://twentytwo13.my/issues/melaka-political-turmoil-a-test-case-could-trigger-power-grab-in-other-states/)

Idris was the state’s chief minister from 2013-2018. In his last year in office, 17,020,098 tourists visited the state, up from 16,794,468 the previous year.

So, perhaps he knows something we do not.

Elections must be called within 60 days of the dissolution of the state assembly, which in this case, was gazetted on Oct 5.

The elections would undoubtedly be a boon for the economy as every political party would send their members in droves to the historical state, where they would gather during the campaign period.

Melaka may not be the only state to hold elections if “innovative” politicians had their way.

After all, Johor, Perak and Kedah installed new governments after the ‘Sheraton Move’, which saw Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin becoming prime minister on March 1, 2020.

Johor Menteri Besar, Datuk Hasni Mohammad, warned that the Umno-led government was in a precarious position as it only had a slim majority (29-27).

Hasni was named Johor Menteri Besar on Feb 28, 2020, replacing Bersatu’s Datuk Sahruddin Jamal.

Sahruddin replaced fellow Bersatu member Datuk Osman Sapian on April 14, 2019, after the latter resigned on April 8. Osman became menteri besar after Pakatan Harapan’s historic victory in the 14th General Election on May 9, 2018.

In Perak, Bersatu’s Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu retained his menteri besar post after switching allegiance to Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional.

Ahmad Faizal, however, resigned on Dec 5, 2020, and was replaced by Umno’s Datuk Saarani Mohamad.

As it stands, Umno has the most seats in the state, with 25. In addition, it has the support of Bersatu (six) and Pas (three) to run the government.

The Pakatan Harapan coalition has 23 seats – DAP (15), Amanah (five) and PKR (3) – while Hasnul Zulkarnain Abdul Munaim, is an independent, after Bersatu sacked him.

Over in Kedah, Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor of Pas, came to power in May last year, after ousting Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir.

That came after Sidam assemblyman Robert Ling Kui Ee, and Lunas assemblyman Azman Nasrudin, quit PKR. They later joined Bersatu.

Pas has 15 seats in the state assembly, and its partner Bersatu, has six.

The Pakatan Harapan opposition pact is led by PKR (five), Amanah (four) and DAP (two), while Pejuang and Umno have two seats, each.

Umno and DAP are unlikely to work together, but politics does make for strange bedfellows.

But before anyone else considers more state elections, it is best to remember what had happened after the Sabah elections on Sept 26, 2020.

On that day, there were 82 new Covid-19 cases, and 10,769, in total.

Yesterday, we had 9,890 new infections, and the total is now 2,313,727 cases. So, that means, one in every 14 had, or have, the coronavirus.

Malaysia is ranked 20th in the world for the most number of reported cases.

In November last year, then prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin admitted that the Sabah state elections was a contributing factor in the wave of cases to hit the country.

The worry now, is that with the Melaka elections due by November, we may see another spike in numbers, even though nearly 90 per cent of the population had received the Covid-19 vaccine.

We only have to look at Singapore to see that high vaccination rates do not guarantee that the infection rate would go down.

Here’s hoping there will be no more party hopping from now, until a general election, probably in the middle of next year.

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