Commentary: Malaysia General Election

 This is a historical moment. According to a news flash from a local newspaper, the voting results for Malaysia’s general election were as follows: out of a total of 222 seats in Malaysia’s Parliament, there were 113 for opposition party Pakatan Harapan (PH or Alliance of Hope), 79 for Barisan Nasional (BN or National Front;ruling party before the election), 18 for the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), and 12 for other/independent, with the PH securing a simple majority. However, even when PH, PAS and others are factored in, the total does not reach the two-thirds (148) required for Constitution Revision.
A majority of my Malaysian acquaintances said that they will vote for PH. However, as there has been polarisation with the intelligentsia in urban areas, and BN has an abundance of election funds and a strong election foundation, their eyes were on how things would actually turn out. My acquaintances had heard about the candidacy announcement for PH, and they worried a great deal about how uncertain the prospects for a win were. But no announcement for candidacy would have meant the acceptance of the administration’s scandal, and the party thus took a leap with announcing candidacy. The results show that there was an enormous amount of dissatisfaction with the current administration.
All eyes have been on Mahathir Mohamad, and while he will be taking on the role of Prime Minister, attention should be made from a broad range of viewpoints, including the formation of the cabinet and how the development projects of the Najib Administration will be handled going forward. Based on what I have been told by those affiliated with PH, there are many who have the understanding that if caution is not taken, then Malaysia’s economy will crumble, and focus has been placed on a realistic compromise. In addition to Mahathir, who had previously been the Prime Minister, there are other experienced cabinet ministers within PH, such as Muhyiddin Yassin, former deputy prime minister under Najib administration.
Furthermore, Anwar Ibrahim, former deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister who established the new opposition party, PKR in 1999, against Mahathir in pursuit of BN will also be involved. Given Mahathir’s age, there is a possibility that he might transfer his position to Anwar, who is himself 70 years old. Will they be able to cooperate smoothly after many years of confrontation? Or will someone else entirely succeed the role of Prime Minister? The relationship between these two major charismata of PH is extremely important.
It looks like this change in administration might result in a reversal of PH and BN, as well as a generation change for politics.
Note: BN only received 29 votes amongst the 56 seats in Sabah and Sarawak, which have been a firm ground for them up until now. The elections in 2008 and 2013 were supported by these two states in Borneo. This reveals a collapse of the network that the ruling party relies on.