MALAYSIA: Time to Say Good-bye?

MARLENA NIP WRITES – The Malaysian elections are fast approaching and judging from current public opinion polls, it looks like Malaysian citizens are shoving the national party out the door.  This could be a historical election if the opposition party is able to take the reigns on Malaysian politics.

The United Malays National Organization (UMNO) has had control of the country since it gained independence from the British, 56 years ago.  The opposition, Pakatan Rakyat, has been gaining strength and support, lead by the charismatic if controversial, Anwar Ibrahim. However, Ibrahim has had much bad press in the past, including being jailed on sodomy and corruption charges. This could turn many voters against his party, which ironically stands on a platform to end corruption, favoritism, and authoritarian rule.

The current Prime Minister Najib Razak plans to emphasize that he has kept a steady economic stewardship and offered the public a series of cash handouts.  He stands on a platform to fight corruption, boost public services, and gain a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.  He fears that this election could give the seat to the opposition force, which would throw away the economic power Malaysia has gained in his term.

Will a shift in political power move a country held together by Islam towards a more progressive society?  What will be the fate of Malaysian politics and culture with a new government in place? Only time, and the results of the election, will tell.

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