In an astounding upset, Malaysians voted against the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in Wednesday’s (May 9) election, ending BN’s unbroken 61-year run in charge of the country since its independence.
Coming out of retirement, Mahathir Mohamad defected to the opposition to take on his one-time protégé Najib Razak, which delivered unprecedented results. The 92-year-old led the opposition party, Pakatan Harapan (PH), to victory and is set to take the helm.
Official results at about 4.40 am revealed that PH had won 113 of parliament’s 222 seats, fufilling the simple majority required to rule. On the other hand, BN had 79, with the others going to Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), Warisan Sabah and several independent candidates.
PH domatinated in states where BN had their strongholds, such as Negeri Sembilan, Kedah, Perak and Malacca and especially Johor, the birthplace of the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), BN’s main component party. The explosive corruption allegations, including the 1MDB scandal, coupled with anger at rising living costs proved too much for Malaysia’s 15 million voters.
In addition, several of BN’s ministers too, lost their parliamentary seats.
Upon the release of the results, supporters of Mahathir Mohamad took the streets to celebrate PH’s victory, chanting, singing, waving PH flags and setting off fireworks.
Najib Razak, Malaysia’s incumbent Prime Minister beset by corruption allegations, said in a televised press conference on Thursday morning (May 10): “I and my colleagues accept the verdict of the people and Barisan Nasional is committed to respecting the principles of parliamentary democracy.”
However, as no single party within the coalition won a majority, Malaysia’s king has been called upon to propose the new leader. Mahathir has reportedly been summoned to the National Palace to be sworn in as Prime Minister.
Naturally, a change of leadership in the country poses uncertainty of an extent to its neighbours. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong remains hopeful in maintaining and developing good relations with the new government in power.
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam also wishes for the best for the mutual interests of both countries.
Befitting his title, Mahathir really managed to “Tun” the situation around! And to all our Malaysian friends, guess you might be able to finally say…
(Photo by: SGAG)