Malaysia just concluded its General Election yesterday (19 November 2022), but as of now, we still don’t know who the next Prime Minister will be. Why?
This is everything you need to know about Malaysia’s GE15, simplified for you.
There was a total voter turnout of about 70%, or around 14.83 million of the 21.17 million eligible voters in the GE15.
The percentage turnout was less than the 82% record in 2018, but there were ultimately more people who voted because of the automatic voter registration and the lowering of voter age from 21 to 18.
GE15’s voter turnout exceeded that of GE14’s by around 3.42 million voters.
Social Media’s Role
In the age of digitalisation, some politicians have stepped out of the boundaries of physical rallies and meet-and-greets.
They have resorted to social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, and they have garnered quite a following.
Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman has more than 800,000 followers on his TikTok page.
Another candidate is Barisan Nasional’s Shah Alam candidate Ishan Jalil, who has around 125,000 Facebook followers.
These politicians believe that the reach of social media, especially to youngsters in light of the voting age being decreased to 18, is more widespread as compared to physical rallies.
The only downside to this is that physical rallies have way more impact on an audience as compared to short videos on the internet.
Would you be influenced by this?
After the casting of the votes, while there was a winning party with the most seats, there was no government formed. This was the first time in the nation’s history that there was a hung parliament.
Wait, what? How?
First, let’s understand how the system works.
As we all know, the number of votes is proportional to the number of seats won: more votes equals more seats in parliament. Simple, right?
Next, we have to comprehend how a government is formed.
The government is not formed by the party with the most seats. It is formed by the party with the majority of the seat. In other words, a party has to have not only the most number of seats, but also more than half of the seats, in order to form the government.
In Malaysia’s case, the dominating party, Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition (a group of political parties) secured 82 seats in the 222-member parliament. It secured the most seats, but not the majority. Simply put, it checks only one of the two boxes required.
So, what now?
In this case, since there is no government formed, we refer to the scenario as having a “hung parliament”.
When this happens, parties can band together and form alliances. Through this, they form larger bodies and their seats are combined. This would allow parties to check the second box in forming a government.
Usually, parties would’ve already planned for this before the election.
What if no alliances are formed after the elections?
If none of the parties give in, a snap election will be held, which means that an election will be held again amongst the continuing parties, so as to have a better gauge of representation.
The hung parliament came as no surprise to many because it was already expected from the start to have this outcome.
A protracted period of negotiations to form a government is expected to ensue from Sunday.
The PH coalition led by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim won the most seats, securing 82 out of the 222 (or rather, 220) seats. Former Prime Minister Muhyiddin’s Malay-based Perikatan Nasional came up short with 73 seats.
Even before voting began, many pollsters predicted Anwar’s success, and true enough, he has lived up to those expectations.
Nonetheless, he is still short of the magic number, 112, to form a majority.
Dr Mahathir: Secede, Not Succeed
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad suffered a surprising defeat during the election, likely sealing his political pursuits with a loss.
To preface, he has served as Malaysia’s prime minister for 22 years from 1981 to 2003.
This man has been in the political game (53 years) before many of us were even born. His defeat is so significant because this campaign would be his first and last electoral defeat in more than a jubilee.
Mahathir came in fourth in a five-way fight in his long-ruling constituency, Langkawi.
Not only did the 97-year-old man lose his parliamentary seat, he also lost his deposit because he wasn’t able to get more than an eighth of the votes cast.
This time around, he ran under his own Homeland Fighters’ Party (and new) instead of the reformist Pakatan Harapan previously.
With confidence, he shrugged off suggestions of retirement and before the elections, proclaimed to reporters that he had a “good chance of winning”.
Looks like that didn’t pan out well.
As aforementioned, since there was a hung parliament, alliances would have to be formed.
This also means that horse-trading has begun behind closed doors and the dominating parties are scrambling to find their kingmakers.
Who will emerge victorious?
Anwar and Muhyiddin have both claimed that their coalitions had enough support to form the government, but have not revealed the parties that they had allied with.
PN has announced that they were not going to be collaborating with arch-rival PH but were open to working with other parties from Sabah and Sarawak to form the federal government.
This means one of the coalitions would be the government instead of the both of them forming an alliance.
At least that’s what they said.
2 Seats Out of Play
In the 222 available seats, only 220 are currently counted.
For the first seat, the Padang Serai seat, voting in Kedah was postponed to 7 December because of the death of an incumbent Pakatan Harapan candidate during campaigning.
The deceased candidate had won this seat in the 2018 polls and was set to go against five others in this election, but had sadly passed away.
For the second seat, the federal seat of Baram, Sarawak, voting was postponed due to bad weather. There was a flood that rendered movement inconvenient for not only voters but also officers and station staff.
The knee-deep waters made it difficult for people to walk around and get in the queues. Officers were unable to reach their duty locations by air, land, or sea routes.
Voting at 11 polling stations were affected. As of now, there has been no confirmed new date of poll.
Apart from the most apparent one, there are a few other notable shocks.
In Penang state, Anwar’s daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar has lost their family’s longtime stronghold to a Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS; Malay: Parti Islam Se-Malaysia) candidate.
In Sungai Buloh, popular Umno stalwart and health minister Khairy Jamaluddin lost to Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (PKR) Ramanan Ramakrishnan by 2.1%.
The 46-year-old was a popular candidate for being in touch with the younger generation, but his loss signalled a disapproval from the people towards corruption, as per the previous United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) scandal.
This would delay his hopes of being Prime Minister one day.
You’d have to be living under a rock if you didn’t know about UMNO and then Prime Minister Najib Razak’s scandal in 2018.
It’s safe to say that the ubiquitous story has tarnished its image and ended its 60-year-long political reign in Malaysia.
This time, UMNO is calling for “stability and prosperity” in its manifesto as it attempts to consolidate power through a formal electoral win.
It, and the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition that it leads, is seeking to return back to power.
“We realise the mistakes we made before and not only do we hope to fix those mistakes, but we are determined to do better.”
Unsurprisingly, the corruption-tainted coalition didn’t succeed.
They got a total of 29 confirmed seats, falling far behind the leaders. In other words, the coalition that formed the government previously is one of the biggest losers (although it would be interesting if they joined one of the coalitions to form the government in this GE).
They have announced that they accept the result of the polls.
Although they are in no position to form the majority, they could potentially become a kingmaker in this election.
For now, let’s just wait and see.
What Does This All Mean?
For starters, a hung parliament for Malaysia would mean that there is more instability in ruling. As the government is more fragmented, the country would continue to face some of its existing economic struggles, further weakening the Malaysian Ringgit.
However, there’s always two sides to a coin.
This could also mean that the policies that they roll out are less biased and can more equally cater to the needs of all citizens.
We’ll just have to see how everything turns out.
In Singapore’s perspective, an unstable Malaysia might lead to a disruption in the supply chain. Because she is one of our sources of food and water, we cannot afford for our supply to be cut off.
Finally, to address what everyone is thinking.
Yes, it’s time to go shopping because RM4 to SGD$1…might really be possible.
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Featured Image: Parties’ Press Conference