Once again, Mahathir Bin Mohamad has been elected as the Prime Minister of Malaysia at the age of 92. He had served as the PM of the Southeast Asian nation from 1981 to 2003. Interestingly, Mahathir won the election by defeating the Barisan Nasional Alliance of which he was the leader for more than two decades.
The nonagenarian leader, who ruled Malaysia with an iron fist for 22 years, had launched attacks on the media, influenced the judiciary and personalised the power in the past. Still, the Malaysians are happy to get him back as the premier. It’s because the people of Southeast Asian nations still have no idea of democracy. Since the end of the colonial era, they have experienced dictatorship or authoritarian system. So, the Malaysians have no problem in accepting a dictator, like Mahathir. Instead, they appreciate the former PM for ensuring economic prosperity. So, it becomes easier for Mahathir to come to power through a democratic process. His stunning election victory over the coalition that had ruled the nation for six decades since independence from Britain is an event to celebrate.
Mahathir Bin Mohamad
Another important factor was Najib Razak, the outgoing Prime Minister. Najib – who served as the 6th PM of Malaysia from 2009 to 2018 – failed to ensure good governance. He, too, destroyed the democracy by influencing the judiciary and media, and sending his political opponents to prison. Najib basically followed his predecessors, especially Mahathir. He lost the election mainly because of his economic policies. He reduced the subsidies given to oil, LPG, sugar and other products. Moreover, Najib introduced the Goods and Services Tax (GST), thus, creating troubles for the common people. Even the Chinese-origin people in Malaysia were not happy with Najib’s policy. The number of clashes between the Chinese migrants and Malays increased during his regime. Also, the outgoing PM was allegedly involved in corruption cases.
For the oppositions, it was not easy to defeat Najib’s Barisan Nasional Alliance. They managed to form a (grand) alliance ahead of the poll. The Pakatan Harapan coalition (or the Alliance of Hope) decided that Mahathir would become the PM and hand over the power to People’s Justice Party leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim after two years. Anwar served as Mahathir’s Deputy PM in the past and was sent to prison (by Mahathir) in 1998. Immediately after his release in 2004, he was sent to jail again and released on May 16, 2018. Both Mahathir and Anwar agreed to work together, despite their political rivalry (in the past). Muhyiddin Yassin, still the closest associate of Najib, (too) joined hands with Mahathir.
The ‘raison d’être’ (or the main reason for existence) of the grand alliance is that everyone wanted Najib’s defeat at any cost. That’s why the Democratic Action Party (DAP) accepted Mahathir’s leadership and joined the Pakatan Harapan coalition. Top DAP leaders were sent to jail without any trial during Mahathir’s previous term as the PM. Mahathir, too, played a big role to form the pre-poll alliance, as he publicly apologised for the mistakes he had made.
We may call it a ‘rainbow coalition’. But, the Pakatan Harapan coalition’s stunning victory in the Parliamentary Elections proves that anything is possible, if oppositions take the responsibility to sensitise people against a ‘corrupt’ and ‘authoritarian’ ruler. All the partners of the grand alliance were ready to make some compromises for the sake of democracy and they achieved the ‘impossible’.
Children believe that there is “a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow”. In Malaysia, the ‘rainbow coalition’ brings a positive vibe. Oppositions in other Asian countries may also give it a try.
Boundless Ocean of Politics on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/boundlessoceanofpolitics/
Boundless Ocean of Politics on Google Plus:
Boundless Ocean of Politics on Twitter:
Boundless Ocean of Politics on Linkedin:
Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org