Malaysia, truly Asia, made history as votes were cast on 9 May, resulting in the ruling party, Barisan Nasional, falling to Pakatan Harapan, an opposition Alliance of Hope between Anwar Ibrahim and Mahathir Mohamad. The victory led by the former prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, was unexpected, in spite of the groundswell during the weeks running up to election day. It was dubbed as the ‘dirtiest’ election to date with a variety of allegations made against the incumbent, Najib Razak and his party.
The victory was evident as towns, cities and villages appeared euphoric with people from all walks of life delighted that there was finally hope for a better and brighter future for their country. They knew that their vote mattered along with the feeling that their voice had finally been heard. Enough was enough! The nation has been marred with increased cost of living, unpopular taxes, currency depreciation as well as discontent in the alleged abuse of power and lack of respect for the rule of law. While the nation has experienced steady growth, recovering from the 2008/9 crisis, much more could have been achieved. Malaysia’s reputation has been tarnished as a result of alleged corruption and alleged abuse of Sovereign Funds against a backdrop of a race-based agenda under Najib Razak’s watch.
Notwithstanding Anwar Ibrahim’s release as he prepares for re-establishing his political career and Mahathir’s formation of his cabinet, including appointing Anwar’s wife Wan Azizah as Malaysia’s first female deputy prime minister, there remains a period of uncertainty. Even with the appointment of an eminent council of advisors, delivering the transformation for this well-resourced country will not be an easy task and will test the nations resolve. Mahathir is 92 and although he was integral to the growth and development of Malaysia in the 80’s and late 90’s, he was also responsible for sacking and jailing Anwar, who is likely to take over from him at some stage. Some remain sceptical of Mahathir’s intentions, however, many believe he is a changed man and has put his love for his country first.
The outcome of this election has become pivotal and has sent ripples across the region. Several countries in the region still struggle with democracy as deep-rooted rulers remain in power and citizens live under autocratic rule. Malaysians should be proud as real democracy was demonstrated underpinned by a peaceful transfer of Government
These are exciting times and while there may be some apprehension, the glass looks half full for the first time in a while for many Malaysians. There is now genuine hope for a better, prosperous nation enhancing the quality of lives for all Malaysians, not just for one race.
If you are looking at investing or have invested in Malaysia or the region or are thinking of doing so – this is a positive outcome. Watch this space.
Source: New Straits Times, Bloomberg, Reuters, Eurasia Group, Nikkei Asian Review, The Diplomat.
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