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EDITORIAL | May 9, 2018. This is the day Malaysians experienced the power of the ballot.

Anger towards the current administration had brought them out in large numbers to cast their votes in the historic 14th general election.

Few Malaysians would have thought they would live to see this day – the defeat of the formidable Umno-led BN/Alliance which had held unbroken power for 61 years.

This is the first time the country has witnessed a change of government since independence from the British in 1957.

Malaysia is probably the only country in the world, apart from a handful of communist states, to have not undergone a regime change.

Pakatan Harapan's victory is even more remarkable because of the gerrymandering, the numerous attempts by the Election Commission to frustrate the opposition campaign, and the holding of the election in the middle of the week, which most likely resulted in a lower voter turnout.

The rout of BN was made possible by a Malaysian tsunami – a tide which comprised not just the major ethnic groups in the peninsula – Malays, Chinese and Indians - but also those in Sabah and Sarawak.

At the end of the day, the redelineation, which BN pushed through weeks before the election, backfired.

Voters, frustrated with various issues, made a beeline at polling stations nationwide to reverse the efforts by BN and its functionaries to steal this election.

More importantly, this election witnessed a swing among the Malays in favour of the opposition despite the scare-mongering and race-baiting.

With this, Malaysia has taken the first step of becoming a normal country.

A normal country in which two or more coalitions would vie for power. A normal country where power now resided with the people, and not politicians. A normal country in which race and religion would not be an unalloyed obsession.

Now the hard work begins. No one should be under the illusion that a new government would be able to reverse the rot that had taken root for decades.

For a country that is so divided, it would take time to heal the wounds, and for Malaysians to rebuild the trust for one another and for the many institutions that have failed them.

Credit must also be given to those in BN such as Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, Umno Treasurer-General Salleh Said Keruak and BN strategic communications department director Abdul Rahman Dahlan who were gracious in accepting defeat, emphasising that the voice of the people was paramount.

Similarly, supporters of Harapan must also be gracious in victory.

May 9, 2018, is also a reminder to all politicians not to take the people for granted. It is a reminder that it is the rakyat who are their masters, and the politicians have been elected to serve, and not lord over them.

It would be wise for the incoming government to remember this.

Congratulations, Malaysia. At last, power to the people!

I never imagined I would live to see this day

Rafidah Aziz  |  Published on |  Modified on


COMMENT | Syukur Alhamdulillah. Praise be to the Almighty for having answered our collective prayers and for having prevailed, to enable us to realise what we wanted to achieve. What seemed almost impossible has happened.

A new day has begun for our beloved Malaysia and Malaysians.

A new chapter in our history has started to be written.It is exactly 4.15 am on this historic day, May 10, 2018.

I am too excited to sleep.

I never imagined that I would live to see this day. The day the rakyat showed their wisdom in choosing a new government for the next five years, and registering so strongly, their disdain and rejection of corruption, poor governance and abuse of authority.

Power is with the rakyat, not the government.

The government only serves the rakyat, and the stakeholders of the nation. Not to serve those managing the nation.

The multiracial rakyat of Malaysia has rejected the politics of divisiveness, parochialism, and xenophobia. They have placed a premium on unity and togetherness.

They have given the contract to manage Malaysia for the next five years to a new party Pakatan Harapan.

Helmed by our remarkable Dr Mahathir Mohamad, I am confident that there will begin the process of righting the wrongs, and putting the nation back on the right track in the context of development, social cohesion, focus on the young generation and all that is needed to bring back Malaysia to its glory days, and more, including to rebuild our tarnished image and dignity, and proudly take our rightful place in the world's fraternity of nations.

The world will be watching every step being taken, by the new government, and by us the rakyat.

Let us continue to remain united, be proud to be Malaysians and be assets to Malaysia.

To the young, please remember that we, of the older generation, are doing all these for you, and the generations after you. Please look after our beloved and blessed nation as best as you can.

Please help to make this new chapter in our history, a truly glorious one, InsyaAllah.

Sejathera Malaysia, Tanah Air Kita, Rumah Kita Bersama.

Syukur to the Almighty for the success of Pakatan Harapan.

RAFIDAH AZIZ is the former international trade and industry minister.


You did it Malaysia!

P Gunasegaram  |  Published on |  Modified on


COMMENT | Finally, at long last, after rather testing circumstances which saw a kleptocratic government refusing to stand down despite overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing, the people – you and me and everyone else – created history of the right kind when they kicked out the party which holds the world record for the number of years of being in continuous power.

Never before had BN and its predecessors lost an election, since the time when they were first held in Malaya in 1955 ahead of independence in 1957. The same party had stayed in power uninterrupted for 61 years.

Umno-led BN, headed by Najib Abdul Razak, lost power to opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan led by Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in league with the opposition in Sabah and Sarawak.

The victory was especially sweet, because PAS under Abdul Hadi Awang had abandoned the opposition coalition which it had been part of for over 10 years. Many, including me, felt with three-cornered fights all over the peninsula it would be an uphill task for the opposition.

Indeed it was, but the confluence of a number of things led to a decisive victory by the opposition this time, unexpected even by those who foresaw victory for the margin by which the battle was won.

The entire campaign was galvanised by the surprise entry of Mahathir into the fray on the side of the opposition, with the consent of jailed PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and his wife and children. If all goes well, Mahathir will be sworn in as prime minister, and Anwar’s wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as deputy prime minister.

For Anwar, there can be no better present than that awaiting him when he is released from prison on June 8, with a tacit understanding that he will take over from Mahathir when all the procedural matters such as a pardon are taken care of.

A public already incensed by rising prices on top of the long-running 1MDB scandal, the biggest kleptocracy the world has ever seen, began to increasingly express its unhappiness. It was further upset by an erosion of all checks and balances against theft by government aggravated by questionable deals made and contracts signed which had the potential of pawning the future of the country.

I wondered, as others did, whether the Malaysian public will finally have the gumption to throw this corrupt, controlling, incompetent government. I knew the urban votes were sealed up but no one seemed to have a handle on what the rural community thought about all this.

“I never thought I would see the day this government was thrown out,” Malaysiakini’s co-founder and editor-in-chief Steven Gan said over coffee and a late dinner early this morning.

But it turned out that the public was indeed prepared to say 'enough is enough' to this government. Thus we, the Malaysian public, have regained our pride and our faith in ourselves and each other. Now we can look forward to ushering in an era of change or ubah! So congratulate yourselves Malaysians and pat yourselves on your backs – you bloody well deserve it.

More than anything or anyone else, it was you Malaysians who brought about the change in the process adopting social media to get news, analysis and information you would never have got from the mainstream publications and using social media to communicate with each other and pass the information around.

Shame on EC

This is your victory and you have clearly given the message to all politicians that they can no longer take you for granted and there is limit to what you will take from them. Now hopefully, Harapan will take heed of what you want, and it is up to you to tell them what that is.

Ubah or change is the word and there is much that needs to be done soon. You can bask in the glory of your victory now and take some time to let things sink in but the work will soon have to begin now for the rakyat and for Harapan.

Top of the list will have to be liberalising the flow of information, transparency, accountability and good governance. The institutions that are needed for checks and balances of the executive have to be restored, and the election processes must be revamped so that the will of the public cannot be thwarted in the future, and that all Malaysians, no matter where they live, have equal say in who will rule on their behalf.

So soon after the elections the spotlight will, of course, fall on the disgraceful performance of Elections Commission chief Mohd Hashim Abdullah, who dismissed calls for an extension past the 5pm deadline due to voters not being able to cast their ballots.

"We will close at 5pm for those not in the voting room," he said in an interview with RTM1.

According to Hashim, this was because the 5pm closing time had been gazetted and votes cast past that time can be challenged in court to the detriment of certain parties. He added that this is the reason EC advised people to come out to vote as early as possible.

Couldn’t more polling stations have been allotted considering that these constituencies were highly gerrymandered to increase their numbers?

And then almost all overseas ballot papers were delivered too late. Was this deliberate or was it incompetence? Either way this man must go, considering all the other clearly one-sided decisions in favour of BN such as redelineation, the midweek polling day, the delay in signing Form 14 to certify counting and so on.

There is so much more to do besides reforming the EC, but for now to bask in the victory is appropriate. We are right to hope that this epoch-making event will lead the country to greater freedom, prosperity, wellbeing and happiness for all of us. That requires all of us and Harapan to do the needful in the coming years.

Again, congratulations Malaysians.

P GUNASEGARAM says that sometimes not taking a chance is to lose an opportunity. E-mail:


Dr M has finally made M'sia a democracy, now cash is not king

S Thayaparan  |  Published on |  Modified on


“People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

- Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

COMMENT | Dr Mahathir Mohamad has finally made Malaysia a democracy. I am typing this while in Malaysiakini. I owe a great debt to Malaysiakini, co-founders Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran. They gave me an opportunity to write when the mainstream media was censoring or ignoring my letters.

Also to Dr KJ John, who introduced me to Steven, who in turn assured me that speaking truth to power, whoever that power is, would not be censored in Malaysiakini.

Malaysia finally has a two-party system, as how I defined it in my last piece. I have no idea how the losing party will redefine itself, but that is not important. What is important is that the former prime minister has finally broken the chokehold that Umno had over the Malay community. He has unleashed the genie from the bottle. What has he released?

Mahathir has released that sense of freedom of choosing and sanctioning elected representatives that is the basic requirement for a functional democracy. He has stopped our slide into a failed nation status and has demonstrated that Malaysia is truly a democratic and moderate Muslim country. Do not underestimate this moment. Do not slide into cynicism. This is how it feels like when a country is born.

Yes, this is the birth of Malaysia. A Malaysia for which the people who voted decided what they want this country this be. A people who chose not to remain under the thrall of money, handouts and racial and religious preoccupations. A country born out of desire for change and to reject a kleptocrat who had shown no interest in reforming this country, but maintained that cash is king.

The people have spoken. Cash is not king. The people are king. The people decide who they want and who they reject. They, the people decide, if you are worthy to lead them, and not that you have the right to lead them. Politicians should remember this. The current incoming government should remember this. Most importantly, we the rakyat should remember this: that the people decide.

There will be many challenges that we face. But what is most important is that we now know we can face them as Malaysians. We understand that if we can throw out a hegemon that has ruled us for six decades, we can surely throw out a coalition which will govern for the next five years.

Politicians understand now that nothing should be taken for granted. You may play the old race games but when people have tasted freedom, they do not so easily want to give it up for the benefit of unscrupulous politicians.

Perfect storm

Now, the most important thing for the next regime to do first is to get rid of the National Security Council Act!

Then, start cracking on those reforms which involve our basic freedoms that have for so long been constrained. Throw the anti-fake new laws out. Allow the press to operate freely. Allow university students the freedom to express their political beliefs.

Stop funding organisations that are meant to indoctrinate the Malaysians. Impose term limits on politicians so that they understand that there is no job security when it comes to serving the rakyat. Everyone gets a chance and not the same old faces dictating policy.

All these can be done without much hassle and fanfare if the newly-minted government is really interested in carrying out reforms. They can be done quickly and will demonstrate that the people’s trust in them is not misplaced. There is so much that can be done, which does not involve huge economic expenditures but the political will to make Malaysia a truly functional and vibrant democracy.

There is no honeymoon year. There are no more excuses. Within this new government are people who shaped the old one. There is experience, but more importantly, the knowledge of what is wrong with this country. The opposition is now the establishment. They have federal power and with it the means to truly save Malaysia.

The rakyat have given you this power. The rakyat have placed their faith in you. If you do not change, we will change you. Most importantly, this is not the time to further partisanship in this country. This is a moment for true reconciliation. A reconciliation based on the knowledge that you were borne on the wings of the rakyat’s voice and not by the feudalistic politics that assigned power and prestige.

Use this opportunity to save Malaysia and radically change the political landscape and not further entrench special and political interests. For so long the opposition had wanted this but they had to wait until the perfect storm engulfed Umno and the people were ready and demanding change.

For so long, dissent was defined by opposing Umno. Now it will be truly defined by speaking truth to power. I hope Malaysiakini is up to the task. I hope I am. I hope we all are.

Good morning Malaysia, wherever you are.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.


Salahuddin: Johor win lesson not to take rakyat for granted

Bernama  |  Published on |  Modified on


Pakatan Harapan’s victory in Johor where it won 36 state seats is a lesson to be learnt.

Johor Harapan vice-president Salahuddin Ayub said it proved that when a mandate had been given to a political party, it must fulfil its obligations to the people instead of taking them for granted.

It must not waste that opportunity as was the case with the BN in recent years, he said.

Johor Harapan vice-president Salahuddin Ayub said the faith entrusted by the people of the state should be put to good use and not ‘wasted’ over the next five years.

“If leaders have been entrusted with responsibilities, they should not be arrogant. Remember that the people who elected them can respond and retaliate,” he told reporters at a press conference earlier this morning.

Salahuddin who is also the deputy president of the Amanah said Harapan also promised to serve the people of Johor to the best of its abilities.

Johor Harapan chairman Muhyiddin Yassin is expected to meet Johor Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar later this morning to seek his consent and to appoint a menteri besar.

Asked on the possible candidates for Menteri Besar, Harapan secretary-general Osman Sapian who is also secretary of Johor Bersatu, said the names will be discussed after which Muhyiddin will present them to the Sultan.

Johor, formerly a BN stronghold, fell to Harapan. BN won 19 state seats while PAS obtained only one seat.

It was a 'Sarawakian tsunami', says state DAP chief

JM Joseph  |  Published on |  Modified on


GE14 | Sarawak DAP chairperson Chong Chieng Jen said the good performance of the state Pakatan Harapan coalition in yesterday’s 14th general election (GE14) was due to “the Sarawakian tsunami”.

He said it was not a Chinese, Malay or Dayak tsunami but Sarawakians have had their eyes open and have come to a final realisation that the kleptocratic BN government has got to go.

Speaking after being declared winner of the Stampin parliamentary seat, Chong, together with Dr Kelvin Yii, who won the Bandar Kuching seat, spoke at a joint press conference and thanked the people of Sarawak over and over again.

Both Chong and Yii seemed overawed and astounded by the sterling performance of the Harapan candidates.

“This victory is not just ours, or our team, but a victory of the people of Sarawak. This is not a Chinese, Malay or Dayak tsunami. This is the Sarawak tsunami,” Chong reiterated.

“Here, we go beyond racial lines, not Chinese, Malay or Dayak but a tsunami of the people of Sarawak. The Sarawakians have spoken with a clear message to one and all, not to take Sarawak and Sarawakians for granted.

“From the beginning of the election campaign, we promised to at least win 10 seats, and this we have done, thanks to you, Sarawakians. We Sarawakians have contributed to the creation of an upcoming new government,” he added late last night.

“From what we are seeing now, it looks like we will wake up to a new government in the morning. I think our work has progressed. We will be working from a new level from now on, and we are ready to bring about a new, clean and effective government.

“Sarawakians and the people of Malaysia have spoken. We, together with our counterparts in Sabah and West Malaysia are seeing a new dawn of hope.”

Chong said that just to say that “we are happy with the results’ is an understatement.

An end to corruption, injustice and unfairness

He said in the present reign corruption, injustice and unfairness would all be a thing of the past.

“Thank you for helping us make this happen. Thank you for helping us create history. We will no longer be deemed the fixed deposit of the corrupt BN administration. We are seeing a new hope for our young generation as well.

“And at last we have proven to the whole world that we do not condone kleptocracy,” Chong added.

Asked what could be the main factor for the choice made by the Sarawakians, Chong said the people have suffered enough.

“The high cost of living caused by the BN regime is one large factor. Financially, everybody is feeling the pinch brought on by the GST. In the light of this, Sarawakians in their wisdom have chosen to reject the BN government,” Chong added.

Yii said: “Thank you for the trust given to me for representing Sarawakians in Parliament.

“I worked very hard. But I pledge now to work even harder for the mandate given to me. This victory is not just ours alone. This is the victory of all the people.

“I will work hard to serve all Sarawakians. This victory is a great testimony to the power of unity.

“We have proven that when we come together to fight a corrupt government, we can make things happen. So, thank you Bandar Kuching, my work starts immediately.”

In a WhatsApp message to Malaysiakini, Yii’s opponent, SUPP’s Kho Teck Wan said: “I lost as expected. But since we work for the people, our work will continue.”

Chong’s opponent, SUPP president Dr Sim Kui Hian did not show up at the Kota Padawan Municipal Council when the results were announced.


Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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