Malaysia is voting on Wednesday! WEDNESDAY! We’re almost there! I’ve been checking in on the election quite a bit for the last few months and here’s what I’ll be keeping an eye on this week.
This isn’t so much a ‘here’s what you need to know’ more a ‘everyone thinks this is quite boring but to me these aspects aren’t that dull’. For instance, you won’t see Anwar’s name anywhere even though he’s really important! So come Friday we’ll have a proper legit actual wrap up of the important stuff in addition to the standard regional look in.
Okay! Let’s go Malaysia!!
Let’s talk about race, baby
You’d be forgiven for thinking Malaysia did not have its sizeable Indian minority, given the community has been pretty much ignored for Malay and ethnically Chinese groups. At around 7 percent of the overall population, Indian-Malaysians have been totally ignored this time except for Mahathir Mohamad showing his age dropping an absolute clanger.
Instead, it’s all about how Chinese-Malaysians will vote and the so-called Malay Tsunami (which feels really not okay to say as a white bird, but that’s the actual name sooo). Chinese-Malaysian voters have drifted away from the Malaysian Chinese Association – the second largest of the Barisan Nasional coalition – in favour of opposition Democratic Action Party. I’d be dead shocked if this trend reversed, particularly with the occasional remarks and the attacking of prominent Chinese-Malaysians from UMNO which have been read as anti-Chinese and forced MCA on the defensive.
The Malay voting bloc will win the election, but it’s unlikely Pakatan Harapan will be able to clear critical mass amid the heavy-handed gerrymandering across the country regardless of how heavy the tsunami flows. Mahathir Mohamad’s candidacy has reportedly dislodged some diehard UMNO supporters and flipped them to PH – solid effort! – but the star power of the former PM has been accounted for. Polls show PH picking up Malay votes since nomination day, but that has eaten out of PAS not BN. Which brings us to:
If you come for the king(makers) you best not miss
Ooh, PAS. Self-styled kingmakers Parti Islam Se-Malaysia may find themselves with only a petty kingdom come the count, with wild discrepancies between what the party expects to pick up and what experts and watchers predict. Still, in the case of a hung parliament they’re far more likely to side with BN than PH so will probably get the power they’re hoping for yet.
Is it better the devil you know? Or better the devil you used to know? Mahathir promises he’s a new man on the stuff you didn’t like and the same old Mahathir on the stuff you did. Former protege turned nemesis Najib Razak better shore this up or he’s done for. I know polls haven’t even closed yet but one way or another we’ll have to talk about UMNO succession plans.
Off the peninsula, Sarawak and Sabah are gearing up. Will Parti Warisan Sabah unite the state and be a spanner in the BN machine? Who knows, but there are a lot of babes in the Sabah race. ‘Make Sarawak great again’, say the two Sarawak Peace Party candidates who are standing on a platform of restoring autonomy to the state.
This is my bet (I think this is a lot of people’s bet actually): Pakatan Harapan with the easy popular vote but a Barisan Nasional government. I don’t think it’s going to be a particularly well-functioning government and UMNO is going to really struggle to govern while internally deal with the fall-out of slipping support and succession issues. PH have been a rickety coalition for a minute now and without an election to coalesce around ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .
But we’ll see! Here’s hoping everything goes smoothly and everyone stays safe.