Malaysian General Elections

The recent general elections in Malaysia has just passed, and with it, a new dimension of feelings towards the government has been sown in the hearts of all, regardless of what they think about the current administration or the election results.

Before the actual elections itself, many soothsayers has predicted a swing in votes due to the numerous bread and butter issues that has been left unresolved by the government. However, I am willing to bet almost everything I have that no one expected such a large swing that allowed the opposition to wrest control of not one, not two, not even three, but four states from the coalition government. And that is not all, the opposition went further to deny the coalition government a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Let’s face it, before this recently-concluded general election, Malaysia’s politics is indisputably presided over by just one party; the Barisan Nasional. Despite their losing a state or two in previous general elections, the general public (and party members) probably never regarded the opposition to be any serious threat.

In the night of the elections itself, when the results are announced (painstakingly slowly, might I add), I had stayed up the whole night to watch. Okay, truthfully speaking, I was more interested in the movie I was watching on my laptop than listen to a bunch of people talk about politics and figures. I sometimes wonder if they are qualified to make those analyses; of course, they may have the certification, but, who in the world do they think they are to act as if they could speak on behalf of an entire nation?

So, it was only my father who was wearily listening to the news. Honestly, in the initial stages, it seemed like this election would not be very different from the other elections after all. It was only when the clock started ticking towards twelve when the elections report I watched turned from a neatly predictable plot that I could sense from a mile away under blindfold, to a performance that the best reality series on TV would be hard pressed to pull off.

Staying until the wee hours of the morning (4.30 am, to be exact), I learned, or more precisely, re-learned why I hated red tape so much. Despite having the results on most states reported already (even the ridiculously isolated and badly-infrastructured East Malaysian states), the results of the elections in the state of Selangor has yet to be known. For those who doesn’t know, Selangor is the most developed state in Malaysia (and hence, carries with it the greatest political and, not to mention, economic influence) and also my home state.

Newspapers vendors reported a sell-out the next day before even 9am. Screaming headlines brought the people a shock, and the television studios started running analysis sessions more frequently than soap operas. However, the busy monotony of life was barely disrupted, if at all. Perhaps this shows how supremely adaptable human creatures truly are.

In any case, most political analysts hail this as a ‘new beginning’ and a ‘wind of change’ for Malaysia. I remain slightly skeptical. The vote has been cast, however, and the opposition now has exactly four (or five, depending on Badawi’s mood) years to prove their mettle and assuage the people. Is it for better or for worse? Or, perhaps we are getting ahead of ourselves here. Will there even be much change? Time, perhaps is the only one to hold those answers.

We, in the meanwhile, will do what we mortal humans do best, that is to argue and speculate on the possibilities. Most of us will get it wrong, some completely, some less so. But, all of us will one day look back and hypocritically say ‘It is inevitable’ or ‘I thought as much’ or somewhere along those lines.


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