Seizing Malaysia’s Moment
With the downfall of the ruling party after 60 years, the new government under Mahathir Mohamad can turn Malaysia into a beacon of democratic hope in southeast asia.
The dramatic change in Malaysian politics brought about by the May 9 general elections saw more than the downfall of the ruling party for the first time since independence. The repudiation of the entrenched and autocratic Barisan Nasional led by former Prime Minister
Najib Razak gives the country the chance finally to sweep away racial politics and other structural flaws in the system, writes Muthiah Alagappa.
If the new government under Mahathir Mohamad is smart, Malaysia could become a beacon of democratic hope in Southeast Asia.
Malaysia’s HISTORIC May 9 election was dramatic, sweeping and unprecedented. a ruling party in power with seemingly impregnable advantages was ousted through the ballot box. There was no extra constitutional uprising, as in the Philippines in 1986, no military coup as in neighboring Thailand, no rioting and turmoil as in Indonesia in 1998. The curtain was pulled aside and suddenly the mighty barisan Nasional and its main component party, the united Malays National Organisation (UMNO), was shown to be vulnerable, its achilles’ heel of corruption rendering it weak, at least for now.
Much of the credit must go to the new prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, who has stunned the world with his return to power at the age of 92. a Malay nationalist, he forged a reputation for building the economy — and acting harshly against his opponents — during his long tenure as premier from 1981 to 2003. his moves against former prime minister Najib Razak in recent years set the stage for what was to come. ultimately, the leadership of anwar Ibrahim’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat joined forces to form the Pakatan harapan
Coalition led by Mahathir. behind the scenes, weariness with
Malaysia’s deteriorating national image under