TL;DR – So so so exciting!
Malaysia just had their General Election. It’s their 14th. Hence, GE14.
Here’s a quick look of the full results:
This year, it’s super dramatic.
Dr Mahathir, who was the 92-year-old leader of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and Malaysia’s Prime Minster for 22 years, is now leading the Pakatan Harapan (PH), against BN. He’s not the only former senior BN politician. Dr Muhyiddin was formerly the Deputy Prime Minister, but he’s now joined Dr Mahathir in PH against BN.
Given how heated the race, it was only to be expected that election day (9th May 2018, Wed) was full of drama. Here are some of the drama from Malaysia’s GE14.
bribes goodies to win over voters
In a last ditched attempt to win over voters, BN leader Najib declared that if BN were to win, they will give all young people aged 26 years and below an income tax exemption from the year of assessment 2017 and subsequent years with immediate effect. They will even reimburse those who had already paid taxes last year. Where will that money come from? Hmm….
Najib also promised to make May 14-15 public holidays so that Malaysians can spend time with their family and prepare for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Malaysian voters going extra mile to vote
Given that the election this time round was right in the middle of the week, it’s very inconvenient for Malaysians working in Singapore to vote. Bus and flight tickets went up. But that didn’t stop many Malaysians from making it back to vote. They took leave, raised funds for those who couldn’t afford to travel back, made amazing videos to encourage one another to vote.
Then there is this elderly voter:
Votes of overseas voters nearly couldn’t make it back
But not every Malaysian could make it back home to make their votes and voices count. Those who live in other countries that are further and couldn’t make it back could still vote. They would get a voting slip, then they would have to send it back. But some overseas voters got their voting slip as late as a day before election day. Which meant it would have been too late if they were to send their votes back.
So some overseas Malaysians who were flying back to Malaysia help other people bring their votes back.
In Brisbane, a network of complex operations to carry the votes back was established and came up online. The operation sounded like some CIA operation:
“With an impromtu trip and drive from fellow members of the group to Gold Coast, while collecting ballots from houses and a 7eleven as secret meet up points…Along with so many request for ballot delivery, dubious people started infiltrating the group, claiming to help and pressing for information, banging on our doors of the group, blockades were made on time to prevent further destruction.”
In the end, about 80+ votes have been delivered from Brisbane to the respective states. Read more here.
Some voting slips had things missing, others had things added
A lot of voters reported that they received voting slips that didn’t have the official EC stamp on their ballot papers and were worried that their votes will be rejected.
Just finished voting. They gave me a ballot paper without the chop at the side, which makes it invalid.The lady voter before me had the same issue! Luckily both of us managed to get new ballot papers. Wonder how many before us had voted without that chop.#GE14 #IniKaliLah
— Mogana (@MoganaVani) May 9, 2018
The Malaysian Election Commission (EC) has assured voters that those ballot papers would not be rejected.
Back in Malaysia, a lot of voters complained that they received voting slips that had some marks, which potentially would have made their votes invalid. This voter posted his experience on Facebook.
The voter tried to change a voting slip.
He was asked who made the mark. He replied that the voting slip already had marks when he received it. After inspecting it for a long time, the polling clerk said that the voting slip won’t be rejected. But the voter didn’t want to take any chances and insisted on changing for a new voting slip.
Tragedies at polling stations
As if this GE wasn’t drama enough, there were tragic incidents at three different polling stations.
Two people died in separate incidents as they stood in line to vote, while an Election Commission (EC) clerk died after falling in the toilet of a polling station. Both the people who passed away while standing in line to vote had pre-existing medical conditions – one had high blood pressure, another had heart and lung issues, as well as diabetes.
Bots spammed politicians’ mobile phones
Since the morning of election day, a number of candidates from both BN and PH claimed that their phones had been spammed with “robocalls”. strategic communications director for ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), Abdul Rahman Dahlan, tweeted a video, saying the mobile phones of BN’s leaders have been under “technical attack since morning”. Mr Abdul said:
“Calls from overseas keep coming in every few seconds! To prevent us from communicating with our machinery. This is dirty trick! (sic)”
BN leaders’ handphones have been under technical attack since morning. Calls from overseas keep coming in every few seconds! To prevent us from communicating with our machinery. This is dirty trick! pic.twitter.com/SU871PmF5G
— Abdul Rahman Dahlan (@mpkotabelud) May 9, 2018
However, PH candidates also made similar claims.
— Mukhriz Mahathir (@MukhrizMahathir) May 9, 2018
It’s still unclear where those calls came from.
Drama continued even after polls closed
There were allegations of voter fraud by BN in the last GE.
One of the alleged tactics that BN used in the last GE was the occurrence of several electricity blackouts around the country, following which, vote recounts revealed that government candidates had in fact won the seats. Malaysians suspected that extra boxes of voting slips which were in favour of BN were added during the blackouts.
While those allegations were never confirmed, many Malaysians are understandably wary this time round. So when a car carrying ballot papers wanted to enter the counting centre after most of the ballot papers had already been transported to the counting centre, a group of men gathering a few metres away from the counting centre moved to block it. There were several online accounts about unmarked cars trying to enter the voting/counting centres last night.
After the drama, what next?
Yes, so what does this mean for us, Singapore and Singaporeans? Well, first of all, this is a Malaysia election, and the Malaysians have made their choice. It was never our choice or preference in the first place. What is important for us and our Government is that no matter who their elected Government, we will just have to get along and work with them.
At this point, I deem it important to remind all that the global political and trading scene is not exactly smooth sailing, what with the increased tension between the US and China. And it works best if ASEAN is one united bloc, and political instability, whether here or across the Causeway, will only lead to chaos. It will also lead to slow-down in recovery and growth of economies.
For Malaysia, we don’t really want any political instability too, and extreme devaluation of the Ringgit may not be all good news for us too, as it will lead to investors losing confidence. What affects the region will affect Singapore too.
And with Dr Mahathir back in the game actively, in fact he’s said to be sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Malaysia soon, Singapore will potentially have to deal with some new issues too.
Does anyone still remember the days when he was in power? And how our two countries would be at loggerheads ever so often? Potentially thorny issues include the Points of Agreement over the railway land dispute, water supply, amongst others.
When the drama is over, and the dust has settled, our government will have to work closely with whoever forms the government. Malaysia is our neighbour. What happens there will affect us. So let’s hope that after all this is over, they will unite as a country, continue progressing, and maintain warm and mutually beneficial relationship with Singapore.