Malaysians Braced for Election and its Aftermath
Image Credit: Wikicommons

Malaysians Braced for Election and its Aftermath


Malaysians are widely expected to elect Prime Minister Najib Razak to another term in office when they go to the polls on Sunday, but any victory will fall far short of a ringing endorsement and could herald trouble ahead.

Najib’s United Malays National Organization (UMNO) – the pro-Malay lead political party in the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition – has never been as unpopular as it is going into this election, according to analysts, who have pointed out that an absence of independent and reliable opinion polls makes forecasting difficult.

But a series of scandals following the 2008 election, UMNO’s worst since Malaysia was granted independence by the colonial British more than 55 years ago, coupled with massive street protests demanding electoral reform has some observers even suggesting that a first-ever UMNO loss is possible.

That’s unlikely.

Despite his short comings, Najib – who ousted his predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in a party room coup in 2009 – enjoys a high personal approval rating largely thanks to Malaysia’s racial divides. That popularity is probably strong enough to offset widespread loathing for UMNO and BN.

“You will note that the election is about Najib’s leadership,” Din Merican, an independent analyst who has worked for most major political parties, told The Diplomat. “It is like the presidential elections in the US. Barisan Nasional is less popular than Najib, who is seen as hardworking and efficient with lots of ideas.”

However, Merican added that Najib and UMNO will not win back the cherished two-thirds majority in parliament, which allows the leadership to rewrite the constitution and pass laws without obstruction. The parliamentary majority was lost by Badawi five years ago.

Nonetheless, UMNO is expected to pick up votes due to political brawling over Islamic laws between Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) and the Democratic Action Party (DAP). And come election day, UMNO’s influence over the government-friendly press, its financial backing and dirty tricks department are expected to just get it over the line.

“I expect Najib to pull through because of massive cheating, gerrymandering,” Merican added. If this prediction proves correct, Najib will have to overcome a litany of accusations.

Senin Habsah
May 2, 2013 at 18:36

Let the elections be over, BN will show PKR what over 50 years of true and pure power means. PKR has had a field day calling our PM corrupt, it will be their time to face the music soon.

May 2, 2013 at 13:57

Mr Saufik
Najib was PM since 2008. And he was corrupt before and worst now. At least anwar is educated n more literate than Najib. Not taking government money to buy his wife a ring and not as corrupt as Najib.

[...] Read Here – The Diplomat [...]

May 2, 2013 at 08:30

[...] Read more from Luke Hunt in The Diplomat. [...]

May 2, 2013 at 04:23

Najib Razak will be elected for sure again. Najib razak is well recognized and has governed the country very well since so many years. Anwar knows nothing about politics and ruling.

A Trailblzer For Developing Countries' Democracies Or Back To The Drawng Board?
May 2, 2013 at 00:50

Looks like the world is clearly aware of the tinderbox situation in Malaysia and are awaiting with bated breadth what will happen next. American style politics with its anything goes, pure briberies, and winner-takes-all outcome is a recipe for disaster – whether internally-made or externally-manipulated.  The only salient feature of the Malaysian-style elections is that unlike Western style simple Conservatives Vesus Liberals is that it comes in two competing coalitions comprising representative ethnic groups – Barisan Nasional representing Conservatives, Asian style, and Pakatan Rakyat representing Liberals.

China and other Asian and developing countries with diverse ethnic, religious and sectarian groups would do wise to constitutionalize or institutionalize a mandaratory requirement for all political parties registering to stand for elections, should have representative groups – religious, ethnic or otherwise – clearly represented in their party or coalition. This is possibly an improvement over the simple any party goes in the West which assumes a fairly homogeneous electorate.  Many of the developing countries, due to the legacy of their former colonials, do not have such luxury. Which is why there are so any problems in fledging democracies in developng countries.

Nevertheless, that is not necessarily a guaranteed panacea for a democratic system meeting the legitimate aspirations and rights of the polygot societies of third and second world countries. The world remains transfixed whether trouble will break out in Malaysia post elections or it is a rare matured democracies transferring power insitutionally without violence and war.

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