At a rally on the southern outskirts of Kuala Lumpur Wednesday night, 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad declared victory in Malaysia’s elections, a result confirmed the next morning. Mahathir’s victory brought an end to the six-decade dominance of the Barisan Nasional (BN), a coalition of parties led by the United Malays National Organization — a group that Mahathir himself once headed. Mahathir was celebrating in the capital, but his victory was forged in the countryside, where the United Malays National Organization has long had a powerful grip on rural voters, especially ethnic Malays, maintained through a decades-long web of favors, benefits, subsidies, and political appointments. But trust in that system has frayed thanks both to mismanagement at the top and incompetence at the bottom, leaving Malaysia’s rural poor turning away from the party they’d helped keep in power for decades.
Sophie Lemière, an expert on Malaysian politics at Harvard, says that the victory of the new opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan, reveals that voters have noticed the negative trickle-down effects of venal government policies. “The level of tolerance for corruption has always been very high in Malaysia,” she says. “But what was accepted and tolerated before is no longer accepted and tolerated.”
At the top, it’s the scandal surrounding the government-owned development company 1Malaysia Development Berhad that damaged former Prime Minister Najib Razak the most. Amid a tangled mess of corruption, nearly $700 million originally intended for national development purposes ended up, his accusers say, in Najib’s pockets.
Full Article: Anger Broke the Fix in Malaysia’s Elections – Foreign Policy.