Uncertainty Prevails in Malaysia despite Vote ; Premier's Shaky Mandate Leaves Crucial Debates over Policy Unsettled

By Cochrane, Joe | International Herald Tribune, May 11, 2013 | Go to article overview

Uncertainty Prevails in Malaysia despite Vote ; Premier's Shaky Mandate Leaves Crucial Debates over Policy Unsettled


Cochrane, Joe, International Herald Tribune


The governing National Front coalition has kept its majority in Parliament, but voters handed it a shaky mandate, leaving Malaysia's major divisions intact and major policy questions unresolved.

If there was a moment following Malaysia's nail-biting national election last Sunday when the country could envision a respite from five years of continuous political turmoil, it did not last long.

Within hours after the Elections Commission of Malaysia announced, just after 1 a.m. on Monday, that Prime Minister Najib Razak's governing National Front coalition had won a simple majority in Parliament that would allow it to retain power, the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim declared that the voting was rigged, vowed to contest the results and called for nationwide protests.

The prime minister's office countered that Mr. Anwar was a poor loser stirring up unrest, while the police warned that the opposition leader and dozens of other people who spoke at a protest rally in a packed soccer stadium Wednesday night just outside the capital, Kuala Lumpur, could be charged with sedition.

Such tit-for-tat exchanges between the government and opposition were commonplace in the years following Malaysia's 2008 election and in the campaigning for the vote last Sunday. But while the country's stock market and currency rallied Monday in response to the governing coalition's victory, analysts say that the continuing political attacks and maneuvering this time, including a plan by Mr. Anwar to hold another rally Saturday night in his northern home state of Penang, are raising the specter of a potentially explosive showdown.

"In a way, it's escalated things," said Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. "And with an escalation, you're not sure of what the results will be."

The National Front, which has governed Malaysia since its independence from Britain in 1957, won 133 of the 222 seats in the federal Parliament. However, this is a loss of seven seats compared with 2008 and, for the first time since 1969, the governing coalition took less than 50 percent of the popular vote. The 13- party coalition, dominated by Mr. Najib's United Malays National Organization, or UMNO, benefited from favorable district boundaries.

The vote split along ethnic, geographic and generational lines, with rural Malay Muslims tipping the balance to Mr. Najib. The biggest surprise was the higher-than-anticipated number of Chinese- Malaysians who voted for the opposition, along with urban Malay Muslims and, as expected, around half of Indian-Malaysian voters.

Mr. Najib, 59, who took office in 2009 and won his first election mandate on Sunday, said at a nationally televised news conference early Monday that he was surprised by the voting pattern, which he called a "Chinese tsunami." This was repeated in comments in Malay- language newspapers that implied that Chinese voters had betrayed UMNO, which many Chinese had supported in the past through Chinese- identified parties in the coalition.

Analysts said that Chinese voters were upset that the government had not made more progress in rolling back longstanding official preferences for ethnic Malays in business, civil service and education.

While Mr. Najib also urged national reconciliation and called ethnic-based campaign politics "unhealthy," some analysts said his "tsunami" comment only magnified the ethnic debate in Malaysia and exacerbated post-election tensions.

"The political divide in Malaysia is poisonous," said Karim Raslan, a Malaysian newspaper columnist and political observer.

The governing coalition asserted that the election was free and fair but said Mr. Anwar had the right under election laws to challenge the results in court. The opposition as well as some independent election monitoring groups claimed that Mr. Najib's government transported tens of thousands of dubious voters, including foreign workers, to hotly contested districts to cast votes using false identity cards. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Uncertainty Prevails in Malaysia despite Vote ; Premier's Shaky Mandate Leaves Crucial Debates over Policy Unsettled
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.