A na­tion re­born as Malaysia

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - STARSPECIAL THE GENERAL ELECTION 2013 -

POWER shar­ing dom­i­nated na­tional pol­i­tics in the early post-In­de­pen­dence years. Ob­vi­ous is­sues like eco­nomic im­bal­ances among the dif­fer­ent races were not fully recog­nised. Nei­ther were they ad­e­quately and speed­ily ad­dressed.

In 1963, Tunku Ab­dul Rah­man con­vinced Sin­ga­pore, Sabah, and Sarawak to join Malaya in a fed­eral union to be known as Malaysia.

Malaysia held its first gen­eral elec­tion in 1964. Sabah only held its state elec­tions in 1967 and par­lia­men­tary elec­tions in 1969. Sarawak waited till 1969 to hold both its elec­tions to­gether.

Eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal dis­putes soon devel­oped be­tween the mostly Chi­nese state lead­ers of Sin­ga­pore and the mainly Malay fed­eral government lead­ers of Malaysia.

Sin­ga­pore’s Peo­ple’s Ac­tion Party de­cided to con­test in the penin­sula. Its C.V. De­van Nair stood in the then largest par­lia­men­tary con­stituency of Bangsar and won. Although Sin­ga­pore sep­a­rated from the fed­er­a­tion in 1965, he re­mained to serve his con­stituents the full term.

The polls saw MCA play­ing a vi­tal role in pla­cat­ing the Chi­nese on Malay spe­cial rights and fear of a merger with In­done­sia, re­sult­ing in the party be­ing viewed as the voice of the com­mu­nity.

This pe­riod also saw the cre­ation of two po­lit­i­cal par­ties: the Demo­cratic Ac­tion Party on March 18, 1966, and Ger­akan on March 24, 1968.

It was in the 1964 gen­eral elec­tion that a cer­tain Dr Ma­hathir Mo­hamad was elected as Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Kota Se­tar in Kedah. He had been an Umno mem­ber since the party’s in­cep­tion.

There was also grow­ing ten­sion with the Philip­pines and In­done­sia which laid claim to Sabah and Sawarak re­spec­tively, This re­sulted in armed skir­mishes with In­done­sia dur­ing Kon­frontasi (Con­fronta­tion).

There used to be lo­cal elec­tions for mem­bers of mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils but they were sus­pended af­ter the con­fronta­tion in 1964. The sus­pen­sion was later made per­ma­nent un­der the Lo­cal Government Act 1976. The Sabah Al­liance (USNO 28, SCA 4) won the 1971 state elec­tions un­op­posed in all 32 con­stituen­cies and formed the state government.

Old days: A woman get­ting her iden­tity checked be­fore cast­ing her vote in a school hall in Se­jingkat for the San­tubong seat in the first gen­eral polls in Sarawak. - Sarawak In­for­ma­tion De­part­ment

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