A New Beginning for Malaysian Politics?
May 8, 2013
On May 6, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak took the oath of office as Malaysia’s 7th prime minister before King Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah at the National Palace. Prime Minister Najib’s coalition, Barisan Nasional, returned to power when it won 133 of the 222 parliamentary seats to form the Federal Government.
For many Malaysians, there were mixed feelings on the result. On the one hand, they are tired of politicking and want to move on with their daily lives. On the other hand, one cannot help but to be upset with how the elections were conducted in general. Among a myriad of other issues, the “indelible ink” marked on voters’ index fingers, a new procedure to prevent people from voting twice was easily washable, party workers continued to campaign on Election Day, and various reports of phantom voters persists. While many observers have reminded the Malaysian public that the Election Commission must not be blamed in full for the shortcomings in the electoral process, many still question its credibility, which has in turn put the result of the election in question.
Despite this, brave young Malaysians saw this election as a new beginning for Malaysian politics.
When interviewed, a young voter said: “Leading up to the GE13, in my mind, I did not think the opposition would win. While I felt that they could win more seats in the parliament, I had a feeling that they would not be able to get the seats needed to form a government. And because it wasn’t a change in government, it is currently being viewed as a total loss, especially by the younger generation of voters. With the result of this general election, the government has a lot more work to do to convince the public that they deserve to be in power. As part of the younger generation of Malaysia, I do hope for better transparency and fairness on the elections and the voting process and information that is being put forward from it. There should be more equality between incumbent and opposition parties, in terms of freedom of speech and expression and rights to a fair campaign especially in the press and media. These are all being championed by Pakatan Rakyat with the help of the Bersih movement. I do want to see this change happen, and I believe that our aspirations will be carried on beyond this elections.”
One thing was clear: the real winner in the Malaysia’s 13th general elections is the people. They have firmly entrenched a two-coalition system in the country and have given the opposition votes that would enable them to solidify their partnership and play a meaningful check and balance role in the parliament. More importantly, the voters have decided to end the days where Barisan Nasional enjoyed unfettered power. The younger generation of voters have stood up, and are showing that their voices are equally as important and that they carry weight no matter where, who, and how old they are. And if this trend continues we can look forward to a better Malaysia.
Amir Shariff is The Asia Foundation’s senior program officer in Malaysia. He can be reached at [email protected]. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and not those of The Asia Foundation.
About our blog, In AsiaIn Asia is a weekly in-depth, in-country resource for readers who want to stay abreast of significant events and issues shaping Asia's development, hosted by The Asia Foundation. Drawing on the first-hand insight of over 70 renowned experts in over 20 countries, In Asia delivers concentrated analysis on issues affecting each region of Asia, as well as Foundation-produced reports and polls.
In Asia is posted and distributed every Wednesday evening, Pacific Time and is accessible via email and RSS. If you have any questions, please send an email to [email protected].
ContactFor questions about In Asia, or for our cross-post and re-use policy, please send an email to [email protected].
The Asia Foundation
465 California St., 9th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104
PO Box 193223
San Francisco, CA 94119-3223
THE LATEST ACROSS ASIA
Columbia University Weatherhead East Asian Institute: “Asian Views on America’s Role in Asia:” Video and Photos
December 2, 2016
NPR: Amid Economic Crisis, Mongolians Risk Their Lives For Do-It-Yourself Mining
December 1, 2016
Research Reveals Cambodian Television Rife with Depictions of Violence Against Women
November 30, 2016
Charter Outlines 10 Actions to Prevent Violence Against Women and Children in Timor-Leste
November 30, 2016
Asia Foundation Releases Study of Private Perceptions of Corruption (STOPP) in Mongolia
November 30, 2016
Public Program: The Asia Foundation’s 2016 Survey of the Afghan People
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Asian Views on America’s Role in Asia: The Future of the Rebalance
Recommendations for the incoming U.S. president on policy toward Asia