The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

The Malaysian election: some hope for change

Wednesday 12 March 2008 at 6:00 pm

Here is something I’ve been meaning to post about for days; I’m going to hide behind “busy” as an excuse. (Although I did get to visit Google yesterday — squee!)

Last weekend there was an election over in Malaysia.

This is a big deal because it was the worst result in recent memory for the ruling Barisan Nasional, and the best result ever for the soft-left DAP that is the most sensible of the major opposition parties. Meanwhile the crazy Islamic party didn’t get as strong a showing — which thankfully confirms that their past successes were a protest rather than an actual vote for them.

And five state governments have fallen into opposition hands (since Malaysian elections combine state and federal votes). It’s particularly interesting that the richest states — Selangor (i.e. the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur) and Penang (where the processor in your computer was made) — were among them. I’m reminded of what voting patterns look like in America.

But at the end of the day, the same coalition that has held power since independence in the 50s won the most seats in the national parliament. Despite calls for his head, the PM is wholly entitled to stay where he is. So while there are a few issues worth watching, nothing has really changed, at least not that much.


Different stories from SE Asia

Saturday 16 February 2008 at 8:05 pm

Turning briefly to Southeast Asia, I am rather disappointed that Malaysia’s government continues to suppress protests by hard-done-by ethnic Indians. It’s no surprise — their Internal Security Act is decades older than the post-2001 police laws in other countries, and positive discrimination for ethnic Malays is a thoroughly entrenched practice — but with elections coming up it’d be nice to not see the same old thing again.

Meanwhile I am impressed that Timor-Leste remains reasonably stable despite a key figure in the anti-government movement being killed, and President Ramos-Horta being in hospital in Darwin. It’s almost as if the dearth of reliable information has left supporters on either side reluctant to lash out like in the past — or more likely, the UN troops are just doing a better job this time.

(And, just as before, the expat who runs Dili-gence is providing the Internet’s best coverage of what’s happening.)

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More unrest in Timor

Wednesday 28 June 2006 at 11:44 pm

I’ve little to add to the interesting comments being made about Warren Buffet’s big donation, so I’ll talk about the other big news item to have been pushed aside by the soccer: Mari Alkatiri’s resignation over in Timor-Leste.

It’s been two days now, and the ABC reports that protestors are clearing out of Dili, but in many areas the protests seem to have degenerated into mob violence, fuelled by the ex-PM’s remarks (Tumbleweed even asks if that makes a good case for censorship; normally I’d say no, but I do wonder …).

So my earlier fears have not been appeased. Mari Alkatiri probably did the right thing by stepping down; I don’t know if the accusations against him are true, but he seemed like a destabilising force while still in power. Problem is, his resignation hasn’t helped defuse the situation, and could just leave things in a horribly fragile state unless he is replaced by a competent and popularly respected leader.

As a closing note, elsewhere in SE Asia: if Anwar Ibrahim does run for UN secretary-general later this year, I wonder what the reaction in Malaysia will be like? Somehow I doubt any of the ASEAN states would want to vote for him in the General Assembly, for fear of offending his former party UMNO

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