I took part in Malaysia’s 12th General Election with a heavy heart as I felt Malaysia continue on a downward spin due to a culture of racially motivated politics, corruption , cronyism and injustice. I also felt that with the Malaysian public’s general political apathy and fatalism coupled with a not entirely fair election process, the election outcome would once again result in a domination by the ruling Coalition Government which has been the case since independence.
I was particularly upset by the emergence of some young candidates who were related to some older scandal associated politicians. These older politicians have been caught too many times with their hands in the cookie jar and thought that the Malaysian voter could be hoodwinked once again by them stepping aside but nominating instead their, son, daughter-in-law or their nephew. Even worse, these new generation of candidates seem to think it was their God-given right to the succession and this was reflected in some of the comments they made on the campaign trail (see last post).
I was so sure of the results that I did not even bother watching the coverage of the results as they began to come in across the country on the TV channels. Then I got a call from a friend at about 11 pm and he told me something special was happening. I turned on to the election coverage and was glued to it until 3 am. By the time, I awoke this Sunday morning, a miracle had taken place. The Malaysian voters had finally woken up and spoke out against the corruption in the system.
For the first time in almost 35 years, the National Front had been denied a two-third majority in Parliament(which would otherwise allow them to change law and constitution without needing the support of opposition parties). The Coalition of Opposition Parties won 88 seats in the 222 seat Parliament which is an increase of 61 seats since the last election.
At the state level elections, after the last election, the National Front Government held control of 12 of 13 states and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur. Today, they lost 4 more states and the Federal Territory to the Opposition. This is a major achievement for the Opposition. The states lost include Penang, Kedah, Selangor and Perak. All of which are the industrial and commercial hubs of Malaysia, the premier states.
At a personal level, the electorate did not return the President and Vice-Presidents of at least two influential component parties of the National Front and also kicked out some prominent “strong-men” in the main National Front partners.
I rejoice that Malaysians have stood up and given this country an opportunity to change and reform. I rejoice because Malaysia is making important steps towards true democracy and equal justice. I rejoice that Malaysians said no to old party politics, corruption, nepotism and to arrogant new generation politicians who think they were not answerable to the people.
Even though, Prime Minister Ahmad Badawi is presiding over the worst ever electoral result of his National Front party, he will be able to form the new Government but for the first time, with a credible opposition in parliament. Bearing in mind that in 1969, the ruling coalition only lost two states but the backlash resulted in ethnic violence that killed hundreds, I am glad that this time, the country showed enough maturity to avoid violence.
I think the police have done well in maintaining the peace and upholding the constitution and the electoral process and should be congratulated. I also think that Prime Minister Ahmad Badawi has done a great service to Malaysia for allowing this election to be relatively clean, for accepting the outcome of the election graciously and for allowing democracy a chance to blossom.
I believe in a Malaysia governed by a Prime Minister who is willing to listen to the opposition and the people or as we say in Malaysia, the “rakyat”.
Wow, so this is how democracy feels like! It is a high. Now is the time to be thankful and work towards a better Malaysia for ourselves and all our children.