May the winners be magnanimous, and the losers gracious. That’s all I can hope for on May 9.
This has been an intense political campaign unparalleled in our history. The rivalry is not just between two major political alliances but a personal one between Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Both sides have traded insults incessantly against each other to a degree I have never seen before. What’s strange about this election is the supreme confidence on both sides that they will win big. My contacts in the Barisan Nasional suggest that they are confident of securing 130-140 parliamentary seats. On the other hand, friends in the Opposition are also confident that they can secure 110 seats in the Peninsula alone.
Given these expectations, one side will be terribly disappointed with the outcome, and followers may become too emotional and unwilling to accept the result. Indeed, supporters on both sides are in a heightened state of emotion and tension, and this is why I hope political leaders and the heads of our security services will immediately issue appropriate statements to calm frayed nerves.
We need a joint statement by the chiefs of the armed forces and the Inspector-General of Police calling on people to be peaceful and calm throughout the election. This statement must assure all Malaysians that the security services will unreservedly respect the decision made through the ballot box and that they stand ready to protect all citizens from harm.
We need to remember that we have never experienced a change of federal government in our history, and the coming election seems the one most likely to have that outcome. Thus, everyone — in particular the leaders of both sides — has the responsibility to ensure that supporters on both sides will accept the decision of voters at the polls.
Najib himself will be the most disappointed man in the country if BN were to lose, and he must be willing to hand over power as quickly as possible. For the sake of democracy, and to prevent any kind of violence, a peaceful transition must take place, and Najib — no one else — is the person who can best assure us of this.
To members of the Opposition, I say this: there may be many things you do not like about the election process in our country, but once you agree to participate in it, you must be willing to accept the outcome.
I know that the crowds at Opposition ceramah have been very impressive and I have heard some Opposition supporters declaring Pakatan Harapan will not lose this time, barring grand-scale cheating. I hope the Opposition too will accept the outcome and will be able to deal with the reasons for the loss, but peace and security for all Malaysians must be paramount considerations at all times.