“Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment?”; we have always heard that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, but on the 9th of May, 2018, Malaysians, and the world experienced this reality when the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (National Front) lost in the 14th General Elections for the first time in more than 60 years to the opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) led by the enigmatic former Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad. This 93 year-old certified medical doctor has successfully orchestrated an upset of a David vs Goliath proportion with surgical precision.
Much of Barisan Nasional’s downfall came from the controversial government-linked 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a strategic development company. In 2015, the Wall Street Journal made a shocking revelation that 1MDB have been allegedly used to steal state funds with it being transferred to the personal account of then Prime Minister, Najib Razak. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also began to probe the connection between Goldman Sachs and Najib that involved multi billion dollar deals. The UK, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore also began their own investigation into alleged mishandling of funds. This plus many more controversial issues have rattled the usually solid and stable rule of Barisan Nasional.
On the 9th of May, 2018, almost 83% of eligible Malaysian voters went to their respective polling centres to cast their votes. Even though the polling stations only opened at 9am, people started lining up to vote from as early as 7:30am. Malaysians of all races, religions, and ages converged as one, ensuring that the voting be done in an orderly and safe way. There were even instances where Malaysians offered a helping hand by organising ad hoc carpooling services and also offered to bring postal votes back in time so that their fellow Malaysians could cast their votes. Social media was used effectively to ensure that this was done.
Once the dust had settled and all the votes were counted (in the early morning of May 10th), Malaysians woke up to a new day and era; Pakatan Harapan won despite all odds stacked against it. Despite Malaysia’s first transition to a new government, the whole process was conducted peacefully and without incident, and caretaker Prime Minister Najib Razak gracefully accepted defeat and promised a smooth transition of power.. Malaysia’s stock market remains strong and Mahathir have established a strong cabinet together with an experienced and solid Council of Elders with an aim to bring Malaysia back on track.