On 11th of May 2018, the 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia was sworn in by the King. The oldest Prime Minister in world history.
Malaysian citizens voted on 9 May 2018 for 14th General Elections without much fanfare. The results dictated we will receive a brand new government but an old face at the top. A new Opposition-led government but an old face. An old face that had been pivotal in the Opposition’s win. An old face that had put Malaysia on the map with economic developments but had also created a deep divide amongst the races with biased socio-economic policies during his previous 3 consecutive teams as the Prime Minister. This old face that was once the leader of the dominant coalition party which had held a tight reign over the country since 1957 independence from colonial rulers. An old face that was a dictator during his term who arrested his opposers, sacked and sent his former deputy prime minister to jail for his suspected sexual orientation and alleged sodomy accusations. It isn’t a surprise, therefore, for many to be suspicious of the old face’s motive in joining the Opposition to run against the very party he served and led before.
Since Malaysia’s Independence, the coalition party in power, Barisan Nasional, had kept and passed many policies to spearhead development of the country. Some of this approved legislatures included the installation of race based socio-economic policies that favoured the dominant race. When this biased policies were carried on for far too long unreviewed and repealed, they were manipulated to only benefit those in power, in senior ranks and their cronies. Nepotism also became rampant in government link projects and organizations. A security act had also been put in place to crush dissidents who requests for reviews of such biased policies. Many unhappy with the way things were left the country or at the very least, sent their children abroad for better future opportunities.
Even with an old face that’s has ruffled many feathers in the country and out, a change is what has been wanted by many Malaysians for a long time and it has happened. Certainly a shock to the whole country especially to those who chose not to vote ‘because nothing will change’ or to those who have given up and left Malaysia.
Malaysia from today onwards is entering into unchartered territory. Will it be the end of kleptocracy or beginning of another? The old and the young-old are weary of the old commander but hopeful for progressive policies that encourage equal participation/benefits, and severe reduction of corruption in the management of public funds. The young voters, without burden of the past, are happy to have contributed to the change of leadership.
While many early articles speak of unity among its citizen in casting the votes to overthrow an overdue regime whose many members have lost their sense of the public serving duties but instead carry out bigotry, inciting racial disharmony and other deplorable acts to keep their party in power for their very own self-preservation, self-enrichment and self-aggrandisement, the reality is that the new government will have an uphill task in reforming the administration before beginning to meet its pre-election promises. The longtime mess and attitudes left behind by the outgoing government is an immense task to clean up. Rebuilding the nation is a huge challenge. Forging a strong and supportive cabinet in the parliament is complicated. There will be infighting and dissatisfaction. Winning over doubters will be difficult – even more so the supporters of the outgoing coalition party. There will be troublemakers conspiring to reverse the process of healing, rebuilding and progression. A single term of 5 years isn’t enough for the new government to make changes. Two terms would see some fruition. Good things can be destroyed so easily.
At ground level, sitting at the Chinese coffeeshops and the Indian Muslim eateries, all races gathered to catch up on the election developments on television and on their smart phones. Many were seen debating over the candidates for ministers and members of the parliament. Some of them shook their heads at certain candidates and exclaimed why they are unqualified to be placed in power due to their past misbehaviour. Politics die hard. Jovial debates continue over coffee and snacks but this time in a new era.
On a lighter topic, maybe its a good time to visit or revisit the ‘New’ but old Malaysia soon.