Whether you’re new to voting or confused by Malaysia’s political news, make sure to still exercise your constitutional right to vote and impact the nation’s future.
In the upcoming state elections, there are 9.7 million people eligible to vote and a total of 245 state seats being contested. If you’re unsure about the situation and why it’s happening, here’s a simple overview.
Federal and State
In simple terms, the difference between the two is just distribution of power. Members of Parliament (MP) are at the federal level. 222 of them sit in the Dewan Rakyat to craft national policies covering areas like foreign relations, defense, education, and commerce.
At the state level, we have the state assemblies. The representatives are called ADUN or assemblyman. They focus on formulating policies tailored to their individual states, encompassing areas like land affairs, Islamic law, and local administration.
Both state assemblies and the federal administration collaborate on issues such as social welfare, public health, and sanitation.
Whenever the Parliament is dissolved, under normal circumstances, the states will follow suit and dissolve their respective state assemblies. This will pave the way for a general election, due every five years, comprising a contest to elect both MPs and ADUNs.
Each registered voter will normally have to tick two boxes on their ballot paper; one for their representative in Parliament and one for their representative in the state assembly.
So since we already had our 15th General Election (GE15) last year in November, why are some of us hitting the polls again this Saturday?
When former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob dissolved the Parliament last year, the five year period was not yet up.
The political situation in the country after the 14th General Election in 2018 was not entirely stable as there were changes in the federal and state administrations which led to an early dissolution of three state assemblies; Sabah, Melaka and Johor.
Despite winning in 2018, Pakatan Harapan (PH) was no longer in power when Parliament was dissolved last year. While they were still in power in several states, a decision was made not to dissolve their state assemblies at the time. PAS also made the decision not to dissolve their state assemblies.
When Malaysia hit the polls last November, six states did not join. GE15 was held to elect 222 MPs and ADUNs for Perlis, Perak and Pahang.
Sabah, Sarawak, Melaka and Johor had already concluded their state elections earlier.
Sabah held their state election in November 2020, Sarawak was done and dusted in November 2021 while Melaka held their state election in December 2021. The Johor state election was held in March 2022.
2023 State Elections
As the five-year period is coming to a close for the remaining states, one by one was dissolved.
They are Penang, Kedah, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Kelantan and Terengganu.
Together with these six states, also taking place is the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary constituency by-election. This happened because the election result from GE15 was nullified by the Terengganu Election Court after they found elements of bribery to influence voters.
Key Dates to Remember
The nomination of candidates took place on Saturday, 29 July.
The campaign period then officially kicked off after the EC announced the names of successful candidates.
Candidates and their parties technically have two weeks to convince people to vote for them.
While general voting day is this Saturday 12 August, early voting is taking place today.
Early voting accommodates various groups, including members of the General Operations Force (PGA), police and military personnel and their spouses. There is also postal votes for certain groups which include media and those staying overseas.
This arrangement allows these individuals to cast their votes, taking into consideration their potential unavailability on the official polling day, whether due to work or residing overseas, while preserving their democratic rights.
Will this Saturday’s results affect the Federal Government?
In short, no. Whatever the outcome this Saturday, the Federal government remains the way it is.
However, the results may impact the Federal unity government indirectly.
At present, the unity government holds a strong two-third majority in the 222-seat Parliament.
Should the unity coalition, made up of Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Barisan Nasional (BN) in the Peninsular fail to win in any of the six states, this will serve as a gauge for public opinion towards them.
So this Saturday can be viewed as a test for the Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim-led coalition.
Who is Fighting Whom?
The fight is primarily between the unity coalition (PH and BN) and Perikatan Nasional (PN) made up of PAS and Bersatu.
Currently, PH is the incumbent in Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, and Penang. PAS holds Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu.
Are You a Registered Voter?
First thing you need to do is check your voting status on the EC website.
While you’re there, you can take a look at their election dashboard which has the full list of candidates.
Now that you have their names, look them up on social media. Take note that not all candidates have a strong social media presence. In some cases, you may just have to hunt your candidate down during their walkabouts in your area to get a feel of what they have to offer as an elected ADUN.
Don’t Forget to Vote
For the upcoming state elections, there will be 3,190 regular polling centres with 17,048 polling streams, along with 260 early voting centres with 377 polling streams.
Time to read and research on your own to make an informed decision. Happy voting!
I read a lot, I write a little. I think.