My dear ONE friends, 

The 9th of May 2018 will live long in the memories of Malaysians and will be etched in history as a momentous occasion. The people of Malaysia voted out the only government they had ever known, and voted in a new coalition headed by Tun Mahathir. 

For political observers, this is a very interesting time. Tun Mahathir managed to successfully lead an assault in Malaysia’s 14th General Election by uniting a coalition which had prior been seen to lack a direction and purpose, other than to gain power. Amanah, DAP and PKR all agreed to work together with the very man they opposed for decades, with his new party Bersatu leading the charge. 

 

 

It is keen to note that they were able to set aside all differences with the one common aim: to ensure that Dato Seri Najib Razak, and by virtue Barisan Nasional, is removed from office. 

PAS on the other hand was criticised for the part they played, with rumours saying their sole intention was to split votes which was to enable a helping hand for Barisan Nasional.

With the lead up to election day, the people could sense the coming of a tsunami. While manifestos play a large part in democracy, this time around it appeared that Pakatan Harapan used the tactic of playing to the emotions of the people and the anger and frustration that had long been held against Barisan Nasional. 

The result was a whitewash, despite Barisan Nasional pulling all the tricks to ensure they won, from gerrymandering, to a weekday election, and even (allegedly) using the EC to ensure questionable tactics were used during the election period, from preventing candidates to contest, to removal of certain banners that had the image of Pakatan Harapan candidates. 

113 seats were won by Pakatan Harapan, 79 for Barisan Nasional, 18 for PAS and 12 for others. It was the result most wanted, but did not expect. Barisan Nasional lost for the very first time. Despite the criticism of PAS, they walked away with 2 states, namely Terengganu and Kelantan, while Barisan Nasional only managed to hold on to Perlis, Pahang and Sarawak, while all other states fell to Barisan Nasional. 

Now is when it gets very interesting. Within days of Tun Mahathir being appointed Prime Minister (to which even then there was plenty of drama), he and his team has called for major reforms and changes to institutions and departments which have been seen to have aided and abetted Dato Seri Najib Razak during his tenure as Prime Minister in engaging with questionable acts. Heads are rolling and action is being undertaken. Even Dato Seri Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor have been prevented from flying out of the country. 

The Council of Elders is to me the best surprise of all, and a genius one at that. It is made up of 5 very respectable, successful and intelligent individuals with the sole aim of reviewing Malaysia’s economy. This Council will have a lifespan of only 100 days, after which a report will be given to the Prime Minister. It has been said that they have been holding endless meetings, evidence of their intent to rise to the occasion and take action. 

The Prime Minister also took the bold move of appointing Lim Guan Eng as the Minister of Finance, a position last held by a Chinese 44 years ago, thus disregarding all those who thought that a Malay should hold the position. Surely this appeases DAP greatly. Nonetheless, he has the credentials having run the finances Penang well and also being an accountant himself. 

All this appears to provide good confidence to the economy and investors.

However, where does this leave us politically? Should we expect such euphemism to continue, or should we be more wary? 

Pakatan Harapan was always a loose coalition, and it is arguable that but for the aura and abilities of Tun Mahathir, this win would not have been achieved. His party, Bersatu, also happens to be the smallest of the parties in the coalition (12 Parliamentary seats won). It begs the question as to whether the the other parties will continue to remain in agreement once Tun Mahathir steps out of the equation.

Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim is also set to be pardoned by the Agong within the next few weeks, and he will be sure to cement his political place and ensure that PKR is on the receiving end of all that is good. What bodes for this loose coalition, if not infighting? It will require patience and steadfastness for the leaders of the respective parties to ensure that peace remains and an assured understanding of everyone’s roles and responsibilities is met and managed. 

Barisan Nasional also has plenty to think about, having been almost completely disregarded by the people if the elections were anything to go by. Dato Seri Najib stepped down as President few days after the elections, though it was rather distasteful seeing the vilification of him by members of the party who just a few days ago had put him on a pedestal. They must ensure the 79 seats they currently hold remains, and must ensure that no one from their side jumps over to Pakatan Harapan, although it would seem like an attractive proposition.

 

 

Their main worry would be to reform and rebrand, especially UMNO, MCA and MIC. They need to question their reason and their ‘perjuangan’, its relevance in today’s modern context. The best way would be for them to create a new entity that is multi-racial, so as to not waste the foundations that they have built upon since independence. The removal of top management will not be enough. It will require a full change and reformation in culture and methodology of the new entity. 

However, the immediate worry is no doubt the legality of UMNO in the eyes of the Registrar of Societies. It is generally accepted that because UMNO failed to hold elections after the initial 18 months extension, the extension that they had received after that from the ROS is illegal as it is not allowed in their constitution. UMNO is expected to hold emergency branch and division elections next month, however it would be pointless if UMNO were to be disbanded. 

This should not be a point for them to be emotional about, but an opportunity to start a new. There is no doubt that many still holds a soft spot for them, however voted against them for various reasons. The country is now in need of a strong opposition for check and balance is crucial for a democracy to function well. BN, or what is left of it, needs to be that opposition for the people, but an injection of new faces and fresh ideas will determine their future and relevance. 

 

As for now, the biggest winner has been the people of Malaysia, and Malaysia itself. A true example of moving forward together despite the uncertainties that lay ahead.

Danni Rais

President

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