Malaysia’s ruling party is facing its greatest crisis of legitimacy yet. Long seen as a modern and moderate Muslim democracy, Malaysia has been riding on its economic growth and good diplomacy for years, and the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which has led coalition governments for nearly six decades, has been claiming the credit. … The last general election, in 2013, was criticized for many irregularities: flawed voter lists, gags on the media, the malapportionment of seats in Parliament and state legislatures. Although the Constitution highlights the importance of having a national Election Commission that “enjoys public confidence,” the commission has been doing the government’s bidding for many years. BN won just over 47 percent of the popular vote in 2013, compared with nearly 51 percent for the opposition. But it gained control of about 60 percent of the seats in Parliament.
… The Election Commission has a long history of manipulating the electoral system to the benefit of the powers that be. After the 1999 general election, it came under attack for enabling and covering up a vast vote-buying scheme in the eastern state of Sabah, in which local authorities distributed identity cards to tens of thousands of illegal immigrants who then used them to vote — usually, anecdotal evidence suggests, for BN.
The Election Commission also oversaw the delineation of voting districts in much of the country in 2002-2003. A study by the Center for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity at Oxford University found that the process revealed a political bias in favor of the ruling coalition. “If the BN itself had redrawn the constituency boundaries to its own benefit,” the report found, “it couldn’t have done a much better job than the Election Commission.”
Full Article: Among Malaysia’s Many Scandals – The New York Times.