In my last article, I wrote about the need to imagine the hours, days, weeks, and months following the 13th General Election (a most enigmatic event, whose precise date is and will forever be a mystery… until it is called!).
This time round, I would like to invite us all to consider, imagine, and think about the first 24 hours after Malaysia goes to the polls.
There are numerous scenarios of what may take place when the Election Commission makes that all-important call after all the ballot papers have been tallied at all the counting centers: a declaration that 1) Barisan Nasional has won two-thirds majority to form government; 2) that BN has won a simple majority and forms government; 3) that Pakatan Rakyat has won a simple majority to form government; 4) that PR has won two-thirds majority and forms government; and 5) a hung parliament, where neither side has the clear advantage.
While this article does not attempt to elaborate on the ramifications of each scenario – there isn’t enough space – what I would like to do is ask us to consider what it is that we can do, in our own little ways.
First and foremost: be calm. No matter what happens, ensure the safety of your immediate family members and your property.
In other words, after polling ends it is best to head home and to stay home, just like what we did after GE12.
Secondly: stay connected. Most online portals that night will be flooded with visitors (or DDOS attacks), so be mindful that some might be down or slow with information.
In fact, keep on hand a list of key phone numbers – close friends, party activists, journalists. And in case the Internet and phone lines get congested, just enjoy the evening. And watch some TV, maybe.
Next: double check your source before sharing that email, SMS, FB update, or tweet. Don’t spread unverified accounts of whatever you think is happening somewhere where you’re not. Check, double check, and in fact triple check – it is better to err on the side of caution than to be the boy that cried wolf.
Four: no matter what happens, stay safe. Don’t take unnecessary risks like driving out around town waving flags and such (it is an election offence to campaign after midnight into polling day).
On a more party political level, at least three key things we have to bear in mind:
One: Ensuring the safety of candidates who have been declared winners, to avoid them from being “bought” by or “convinced” to join the “other side” (whichever side that may be);
Two: Securing the sites of government, both on a state and federal level. This means putting in place safeguards promptly, to ensure that key documents are not ferried out nor destroyed by the outgoing parties.
To this end, official security services – namely Polis Di Raja Malaysia – must maintain a neutral stance and assist in the peaceful and democratic transition of government.
Three: Formation of government, which involves meeting the heads of state as well as the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and convincing them that the parties forming government do indeed have “the numbers” to do so.
Obviously this is not a comprehensive nor exhaustive study of the first 24 hours after GE13. But what I would like readers to walk away with is a sense that as Malaysians, we need to begin imagining these crucial and critical hours of our nation’s history, to be comfortable with the thought of what may take place, and most importantly: to be prepared, come what may.
(First appeared on SelangorTimes on 10th August 2012)