Sunday, March 09, 2008

Malaysian Election Results--From the Frying Pan into the Fire?

Malaysia woke up today to a transformed political landscape. Whilst the ruling coalition 'BN' clung onto a simple majority in Parliament--around the 60% mark--the opposition picked up an astounding 80+ seats. It's the first time in 40 years that BN has not owned more than 2/3rds majority. Under Malaysian law, BN is now less capable of ramming its agenda through the legislature, and will be under much more pressure and scrutiny from this point forward. The corrupt Prime Minister will also be under pressure from his party to resign his post.

That's the good news. The bad news?

The opposition that handed BN such stunning reversals is essentially a leftist-Islamist alliance, two (not unsurprising) bedfellows who worked together to engineer this massive rebuke of the ruling party. The leftists of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) now control Penang, a powerhouse industrial state that accounts for much of Malaysia's exports. And the Islamists of PAS now lay claim to much of the north of the country, winning two states (Perak and Kedah) whilst strengthening their hold onto a third (Kelantan). That's right--the party that wants to unleash the full fury of Sharia upon the country, complete with floggings, stonings and amputations, now runs a much larger part of it.

So, were the people voting for the Opposition or against the corrupt and long-ruling power brokers of BN? Perhaps a bit of both.

Nevertheless, what Malaysia truly needs is something no one--BN or in the Opposition--can now offer. That's secular democratic capitalism, with an emphasis on the word 'secular'.

The political future of Malaysia now looks to be a three sided contest, between the petty fascists of UMNO/BN, the left-leaning socialists of DAP, and the Islamofascists of PAS. Can any good come out of this cauldron?


Wormie said...

Like I mentioned in my blog, despite the uncertainly, it also presented an opportunity (that may never happened again) for Malaysia to try out something new instead of the old powerhouse propagating cronyism, corruption and wastage. Even if this new arrangement fails, it cannot be any worse from what we already have. For the sake of Malaysia, hopefully this experiment works, creating a proper two 'party' system with the inherent check-and-balances.

Anonymous said...

I am a singaporean working in jakarta.I have many friends and cousins who are malaysians.I interestingly noted that barisan national got 55 seats from east malaysia and 25 seats in johor. Barisan national not only lost 2\3 majority, it lost the confidence of the people in west malaysia.malaysian success like singapore is based on racial integration and harmony.I wish all malaysians the best in this new era.