Mahathir’s victory in Malaysia
Mahathir Mohamad’s spectacular victory in Malaysia’s elections has the potential to spur democratic movements across Southeast Asia, where one-party rule and the military’s preeminence are pervasive. Winds of change could be in the offing, with elections looming in a number of countries. A clear majority for the opposition Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) in the new federal legislature signals Mr. Mohamad’s resounding comeback.
Exit of Najib Razak
Outgoing Prime Minister Najib Razak’s overall economic track record was not sufficient to salvage the ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front), or its principal party, the United Malays National Organisation. Neither did his government’s stringent curbs on media freedoms, last-minute meddling with electoral constituencies and promises of generous handouts do the trick. This is a historic transition, with UNMO ousted from power for the first time.
Mohamad challenging his own created party
Mr. Mohamad had helped found UNMO, held power between 1981 and 2003, and in 2009 handpicked Mr. Razak for the big post. Now, the 92-year-old challenged the party that was once his, with the single objective of overthrowing his old protégé. Mr. Razak’s alleged involvement in a multi-million-dollar embezzlement scandal in a sovereign wealth fund appears to have turned the popular mood. Investigations in several countries into investments in the fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, dented the country’s reputation as a regional tiger economy. The scandal and Mr. Mohamad’s strong Malay nationalist credentials gave the opposition the momentum it had long sought.
(Adapted from The Hindu)