WARNING: INFINITY WAR SPOILERS INSIDE! NO SRSLY, IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED, PLEASE READ HALFWAY ONLY!
It’s FINALLY here ugaiz. The event we’ve been writing about since two years ago and the one we’ve all been waiting for. In just a couple days, we’ll know who our Prime Minister for the next few years will be and whether we would have won a bet against someone who wanted to challenge us to one a month ago.
But with all the what-ifs floating around right now, we couldn’t help but wonder what the morning after our 14th General Elections on May 9th will look like (and the next coupla weeks after). This time around, news is starting to circulate that there’s a chance of a new government being formed.
And of course, people are asking… what WOULD happen if BN DOESN’T win a majority in GE14? So like any curious nerd with too much time on our hands, we drew up 4 different scenarios that could happen if BN loses GE14. Of course, we have the world’s longest ruling coalition, meaning this hasn’t happened before, meaning….
NOTE: These scenarios are theoretical. So we did what we could, piecing law with history, and as little non-fact as we could.
With that disclaimer in mind, here’s what we found.
Scenario 1: Pakatan wins, BN steps down peacefully
Conditions: PH wins more than 112 seats, BN doesn’t object in any way.
Panadols required: 1
How long after May 9th: By next day should be settled dy.
Assuming Pakatan Harapan wins more than the bare minimum of seats required to have a simple majority in parliament (112 seats out of 222, if you malas to count), that pretty much means they get to form the government ady lah.
So for Pakatan, the MP who will be chosen to become Prime Minister will be Tun M, who will then get to advise the Agong on who to appoint as cabinet ministers. Najib will have to step down from his role as the current caretaker PM (his official title after dissolution of parlimen on April 10th) so that Dr Mahathir can be sworn in as the new PM by the Agong. The swearing-in ceremony will be held at the Istana Negara and chances are, this will be the first one ever to be streamed on Facebook live.
According to constitutional lawyer Tommy Thomas, this transfer of power should be facilitated by government agencies and civil servants, including ministry secretary-generals, the police, the army, and the Agong’s palace.
Surprisingly, this process is supposed to all happen really fast within the same day on May 9th. From the example he gives, it can be expected that if Pakatan is winning ady, the police should have contingency plans to escort Dr Mahathir to the palace and provide him with protection as the Prime Minister-in-waiting.
But even in this relatively peaceful scenario, this will be the first time in Malaysia’s history that BN has lost, so expect a negative knee-jerk reaction from investors who will probably pull out of the market as a result of uncertainties. This has less to do with investors not liking Pakatan and more to do with the fact that uncertainty in investing is a bad thing.
Scenario 2: Counts, Recounts, legal challenges
Conditions: Any party not being happy with the results of the election.
Panadols required: 5
How long after May 9th: Can take anywhere from one day to a few months to resolve.
Before we get into this, let’s explain the voting process a bit. The results can possibly be contested at three stages.
Stage 1: Leading up to the evening of May 9th, polling booths across the country will start sending their results to be declared. They do so by counting the votes in the ballot boxes, and filling out the results in something called a Form 14. This is the most important document for each party’s polling agents as it ensures that the results are public and indisputable. If there’s a recount, the polling agents and SPR officials stay AT the polling booth and don’t leave till the Form 14 is agreed upon (although reports have started emerging that copies of Form 14 are not being given for early voters).
Stage 2: From there, the numbers of votes in the Form 14s are collected at a Tallying Centre, and added up (using calculator, not computer), and the results announced. Recounts have been requested, which is why these sessions sometimes go past midnight, as with Nurul Izzah at Lembah Pantai during GE13).
So yes, weird things have allegedly happened during the election process – foreign workers voting illegally, recounts, dodgy Form 14s (especially in areas where there are no polling agents)… but there are two important things to remember here.
- Recounts can only happen when there is less than 4% winning margin calculated
- The results have to be gazetted on May 10th, but there’s still one more way the results can be challenged.
Stage 3: The third recourse is AFTER the election results are gazetted (made official la), and parlimen is formed, either party still has 21 days to object any particular seat’s results. This is known as an election petition, and both parties filed numerous petitions after GE13, so it’s likely that there will be even more this time around. Each petition can contest that the seat was won under dubious conditions (by either party), and High Court might nullify that one particular seat’s results (not the whole election), after which, the courts can either arrange a by-election, which hasn’t happened as far as we can tell. Instead, it’s usually when the winning candidate dies for some reason.
But actually, it’s not so easy to contest these election results. In fact, all petitions were rejected after GE13, and the court charged both parties tens of thousands of ringgit, including one very poor PAS guy. Not only does the accusing party have to prove that some dodginess happened, they have to prove that it happened ENOUGH to influence the election.
“Let’s say if I lost in a place with 1,700 votes, I have to get about 1,000 people to come forward to sign statutory declaration and lodge police reports to back up the allegation. It is almost impossible to get 1,000 voters to so do. At most, probably we can get about 10 people to come forward,” – Rafizi Ramli, on theoretically refuting a bribery charge, Free Malaysia Today, June 2013.
“The result is the voters’ voice. You want to challenge or unseat that result. You are in fact trying to unseat the voice of the voters. So you’d better have really good reason to do so.” – LoyarBurok
Keep in mind that during Stage 3’s entire process, if BN has already lost, Harapan would already be in charge of Putrajaya. So assuming the results are locked in, what happens if…
Scenario 3: No one wins GE14?! Wait… what?!
Conditions: No party hits 112 seats, and thus cannot form a majority.
Panadols required: 6, same amount as scenario 2, but with one more headache added.
How long after May 9th: Can even take a whole year (!)
This scenario can get quite complicated depending on the election results. Again, bearing in mind that a coalition needs 112 of the total 222 parliamentary seats to form a government, what happens if PH and BN have only say 90 seats each? In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a perfect tie. As long as no one has the majority, the issue of who gets to form the government still needs to be dealt with even if the seats are split 91/89 or 85/95. So if elections have been held and the results show a hung parliament, three things can happen.
PH and BN form a unity gomen (almost impossible): This scenario is basically one where PH and BN join forces and forms the gomen. Of course, the reaction to a unity gomen back in 2009 from then PR leader Anwar Ibrahim was a heck no, so we doubt it would be any different today.
The idea first came up in 2008 after it was proposed by current PAS president, Hadi Awang, then again later in 2013, when BN lost the popular vote. The closest thing we’ve seen to this was actually the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis when Pakatan Rakyat and BN each had 28 seats in the Perak state assembly. The crisis eventually ended after 11 months when BN managed to convince 3 independents to join them, tipping the scales in BN’s favour.
PH or BN forms a minority gomen (not impossible): Although this has never happened cos BN has always won a majority, it is one possibility in the event of a hung parliament. All this means is the Agong will appoint a Prime Minister who does not command a majority, but can rely on MPs from outside his party to back them up in no-confidence motions, or pass budgets and other essential legislation. However if we were to go by examples from the UK, minority gomens are generally weak (need to keep lobbying smaller parties for each and every bill) and tend to be dissolved shortly after they are formed, meaning it would likely be the same here.
PH or BN forms a majority with a third party (most likely PAS la): Because we’re talking about third parties, there are several different ways this could play out. By third parties, we mean parties that are not part of the PH or BN coalitions but could conceivably work with one or the other if enough deals are made. The most likely one to have a significant impact is former opposition coalition partner, PAS who analysts estimate have enough support to give either PH or BN a majority. After all, they have expressed their willingness to be kingmaker to whoever will agree to form an Islamic government with them, and seeing BN’s current friendliness with PAS and their former partnership with PH, it IS possible.
Scenario 4: The sum of all fears
Conditions: BN loses the majority and people aren’t happy with the result.
Panadols required: The whole packet, but please save some for later. Might need to stay in for a while.
How long after May 9th: If history is an indicator, possibly more than a year ?
Actually, we also quite sked to explore this scenario… but enough people have talked about it that we feel it needs to be addressed at least somewhat. Please take this with a big pinch of salt.
Assuming a scenario where BN loses and enough people are upset by the results, there are those who believe that large scale riots like those seen after the 1969 elections could potentially happen. Messages have been making their rounds on WhatsApp urging Malaysians to be careful and to stock up ahead of time, along with posts such as these on social media.
OK wait. We can kurangkan garam now. As we were writing this article, Tun M has actually come out and said it as well.
“This is what we fear… He (Najib) is trying somehow or other to avoid being arrested. There is a rumour… that Umno will create trouble. They have thugs who will create trouble and there will be a state of emergency or a state of national security, then Parliament will not be called, and the rule of law will be suspended.” – Tun M, in an interview with MalaysiaKini, 7 May 2018
In fact, this possibility was also highlighted by an award-winning journalist, Leslie Lopez, at the Strait Times.
“Against this backdrop of political upheaval in Malaysia, the ruling BN could move to suspend parliamentary democracy to pave the way for a national emergency, pushing the country further into political limbo.” – Leslie Lopez, “Possible Outcomes of Malaysian Election on May 9th”, The Straits Times, May 6 2018.
One of the laws mentioned by Mahathir is the National Security Act, which enables a state of emergency declared in any area, and imprisonment of anyone without trial in that area. In fact the law has some much scarier repercussions we explored in this earlier article.
However, Tun M, did add that it might not happen, because IF the Prime Minister chooses this path, he might lose the support of the other executors of the NSC shown above. He compared Najib to Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos, who had placed the country under martial law in the 70s. However, unlike Marcos who was supported by the Armed Forces, Tun M said he doesn’t think the police and head of the armed forces will support Najib if he were to try and misapply the NSC law.
“…when he breaks the law by misapplying this law (NSC) that he has enacted, I think they will not support him anymore. When they do not support him, he will fall. He can only sustain a military government or an emergency government if he is supported by the police and the armed forces.” – Tun M
Fuhrermore Furthermore, IJM co-founder, Koon Yew Yin has dismissed the possibility of May 13 happening again, citing the changes in society that have occurred between then and now and the availability of information due to technology.
“The socio-economic situation is completely different: the Malays are no longer impoverished or marginalised, and it will also be impossible for any group or even party to organise armed violence given the openness of society and the current technology which makes news spread like wildfire.” – Koon Yew Yin, co-founder of IJM Corporation, in an interview with FMT.
Ok la cukup spoilers dah.
At the end of the day, like we said, they’re all theories, not much better than predictions on Infinity War. As with all big blockbusters, you’ll just have to wait for how it pans out.
Happy voting everyone. Stay safe, peaceful, and hopeful… and we’ll see you on the other side.
Co-written by Iqbal and Chak. Brought to you by cheese nuggets.