We did it! We ousted a kleptocracy. Congratulations to all those who dreamed of change. This is a new beginning for Malaysia – an historic opportunity to right all the wrongs in our country.
We have confounded the international media and the analysts who predicted a slim BN victory. They got it so wrong. People were fed up with the higher cost of living, GST, lower wages and rampant corruption – and we came together to drive out the regime that gave them so much misery.
We owe many thanks not just to Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Anwar Ibrahim, and Azizah Wan Ismail and the other political leaders, but also to all those who sacrificed their time and energy to bring about a new Malaysia. A special mention to the Bersih 2.0 team, Rafizi Ramli and his Invoke team, Clare Rewcastle Brown and Sarawak Report, the Patriot military veterans group, Zunar and the many, many other activists, past ad who worked bertungkus-lumus to raise public awareness – not just those still alive but all those who laid the foundation for the struggle for justice in the country and who are no longer with us.
And let’s not forget the military and police on duty, who by and large, acted professionally on polling day and last night to respect the people’s verdict and keep the peace. Their early votes and the postal votes of civil servants and those overseas must have made a difference as well.
Not that Malaysians needed to be told to keep the peace. They were largely well behaved and acted with stoic calm during this momentous period. This peaceful transition, despite some saying there could be unrest or riots, makes us immensely proud. It was not a Chinese tsunami or a Malay tsunami but a real Malaysian tsunami.
And who said that prayer doesn’t work – many Malaysians prayed fervently for change in the days leading up to the general election. And they walked the talk too – signing up as polling and counting agents; coming up with creative content, images and videos to share; forwarding these and other messages via WhatsApp (yes, that played a big part in this WhatsApp general election); and persuading family and friends it was time for change.
So, as things stand, the latest tally is:
113 – PH
8 – Warisan
1 – Independent (Batu MP)
122 -Total Pakatan Harapan alliance
79 – Barisan Nasional
18 – Pas
3 – Independents (two in Sarawak and one in Sabah)
222 total parliamentary seats
(This 122 seats for PH is what I had predicted here. Let’s see if the popular vote is around 60%, what I had forecast.)
But now Mahathir claims PH has collected over 135 seats in all. Maybe he was tired or perhaps he was thinking that other parties could join the new (about-to-be) ruling coalition like PBB, which picked up 13 seats (so 122 + 13 = 135). But not a good idea to include PBB, which was very much part of the corrupt sysem.
More importantly, a common logo brought together Malaysians of different party affiliations or none for a common cause – ousting a kleptocracy/kakistocracy. It was a celebration of togetherness. It is a new dawn, a second Merdeka.
As Martin Luther King proclaimed in those immortal words, “We are free! We are free! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!” These are not just words. Our choice may have saved folks like Rafizi and Zunar from a long stint in the slammer.
It is not over yet. Some delay before Mahathir is sworn in as prime minister, during which all kinds of things can happen, though the Johor Sultan has now come out to say a new government should be quickly installed in the state and the federal level. But Mahathir is still waiting at the Istana, and it is not clear if he will actually be sworn it today. What’s the delay?
A dejected Najib Razak had earlier said at a 11am press conference, “I accept the verdict of the people” but added that the decision on who would form the next government would be up to the Agong. It was a strange concession speech – he didn’t really congratulate the winners.
Certainly, Najib and his team must be held to account for 1MDB, Felda and other major scandals. The Electoral Commission chief Mohd Hashim must be brought to book for conducting the worst election and gerrymandering we have witnessed.
So PH has retained Penang and Selangor and added Negeri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor to the mix. (Imagine that! Johor, the bastion of Umno has fallen.) That’s five states. Then, there will be some tough decisions and negotiations over the somewhat hung state assemblies in Kedah and Perak.
In Sabah, Warisan, PH and Upko are trying to stitch up a coalition. Earlier, Shafie Apdal was barred from entering the Istana. The situation is really fluid over there. I will update the table below as I get word:
Sabah state seats
21 – Warisan
2 – PKR
6 – DAP
2 – Upko (pulled out of BN)
4 – Umno (pulled out of BN)
35 – PH and allies
23 – BN
2 – Star
25 – Total BN and allies
Meanwhile, BN takes Perlis and Pahang. In a smaller ‘green wave’, Pas captures Kelantan and Terengganu. If Umno (we can forget about MCA, MIC and Gerakan) formalises its electoral alliance with Pas into a coalition, they could rule Perak as well. But PKR might try and persuade the three Pas assembly reps there to form a coalition government in Perak with PH – though I don’t know if that is a good idea. In any case, that would mean the northern and east coast belt would be under Umno and Pas.
As for Penang, PH has swept 37 of the 40 seats. But the breakdown is interesting, and there is sure to be some behind-the-scenes dynamics:
Penang state seats:
19 – DAP
2 – Amanah
1 – Bersatu
37 – PH total
2 – Umno
1 – Pas
40 Total Penang state seats
In the absence of a proper opposition in Penang, the backbenchers will have to play the role of checks and balances in the system.
We may have a few days holiday this weekend, but you know what? We cannot sit back and relax for long. We should soon start making a beeline for the new political leaders with all our wish lists. Because that is exactly what Big Business and developers will be doing while we are busy celebrating. So we need to quickly take up all our issues, including public interest and civil society concerns, with the new leaders, before others lobby them for their own private selfish agendas.
Already, rating agency Moody’s is saying that removing GST would not be a good idea. Well, we don’t need this neoliberal regressive tax, which has burdened the people no end. Moody’s should just butt out.
For now, we can celebrate but we have to remain vigilant to make sure this election – and the people’s agenda for change – is not stolen from us or sidelined in the days to come. Our problems won’t disappear overnight. We must continue to be involved in any way we can, perhaps as volunteers for a cause that we are passionate about.
This country is yours and mine. Let’s start rebuilding it. No time to lose.