One of Malaysia’s most hotly contested elections has returned the ruling coalition to power. Prime Minister Najib Razak had staked his political future on strengthening his alliance’s majority in Parliament.
But his standing has been weakened – and he is promising to engage in dialogue with his political opponents. That has since been rejected – with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim pressing for a rally in two days to protest against the results.
Al Jazeera’s Florence Looi reported, “The narrower margin means Najib’s administration has its work cut out for it. A youth leader in the coalition’s dominant Umno party acknowledged that in a tweet on Monday. He wrote that the victory was only a reprieve and that a failure to deliver on the change that people want could mean the end for the National Front come the next general election”
talked about this particular elections, you promised reforms but Malaysia did not get a a free and fair elections and it really is a flawed democracy at best.”]
There were two main personalities in this election, and Razak was one of them.
He has has been Malaysia’s prime minister since 2009. At 23, he became the youngest member of parliament in Malaysian history and quickly rose to prominence.
He is part of a political dynasty, with his father and uncle both former prime ministers. Under his leadership, the government repealed the controversial Internal Security Act. But critics say the new laws remain repressive and still allow for abuses.
Najib also promised to reform pro-Malay policies, though many of them remain in place.
Meanwhile, for Anwar Ibrahim, the opposition candidate, it has been a long journey that has taken him to both sides of Malaysia’s political divide.
Anwar is a former deputy prime minister himself, serving under Mohathir’s government from 1993 to 1998. He was sacked after falling out with Mohathir over the need to crackdown on corruption.
He has since battled charges for sodomy for which he was convicted, but eventually cleared. Sodomy is illegal in Malaysia, but Anwar has always maintained the cases were politically motivated.
Anwar joined the opposition, leading it to an unprecedented showing at the 2008 polls. It was the start of the first serious challenge to ruling Barisan National’s grip on power.
The opposition had capitalised on rising anger over corruption and oppressive tactics.
So with pyrrhic victory for the government, new social schisms exposed and polarisation that runs deep in the Malaysian society, Inside Story with presenter Jane Dutton, unpacks the issues with guests: Nurul Izzah Anwar, a member of parliament for the opposition People Justice Party and the daughter of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim; Azman Ujang, former editor-in-chief of the government-sponsored Bernama news agency; and Bridget Welsh, a professor of political science from Singapore Management University and author of numerous publications on Malaysian politics.
“One has to put this into context, one of the realities of what has been happening in Malaysia is a declining failth in many of the politcial institutions and their ability to carry out elections in an administratively neutral way. And the election commission has been faced with a lot of allegations over the last five years”
Bridget Welsh, a professor at Singapore Management University
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