Roused by the soaring rhetoric of pre-election campaign promises, many Malaysians have settled into a state of post-election despondency as the economy weakens and politics return to business as usual. The letdown was palpable on Independence Day, where unlike previous August 31 celebrations few private buildings or cars displayed the national flag.

A sense of lost opportunity has permeated the country in the aftermath of the May 5 general election, a poll plagued by vote-buying, electoral roll irregularities and bogus constituency boundaries that only narrowly returned Prime Minister Najib Razak’s long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition to power. BN garnered just 47% of the popular vote, compared to the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition’s 51%.

The BN retained control of parliament despite widespread complaints about the way constituency boundaries were drawn to give greater weight to remote and rural areas, where the BN benefits from its dominance over the traditional mainstream media and populist schemes and hand-outs targeting the poor. Although the BN won fewer parliamentary seats, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the largest party in the ruling coalition, notched more seats than it did at the 2008 election, further entrenching its dominance within the BN. Full article on Asia Times Online.