ANU EXPERTS: Malaysian election

Director of The Australian National University (ANU) Malaysia Institute, Dr Ross Tapsell, has labelled today the ‘most important day in Malaysia’s history since its independence’ with former leader Mahathir Mohamad claiming an extraordinary victory in the country’s 14th general election.

The ANU has experts from the ANU Malaysia Institute available to speak about the election result and its implications for Australia.

They can be contacted directly, or through the media hotline on 02 6125 7979.
Dr Ross Tapsell
Director, ANU Malaysia Institute
T: 0402 642 832

“This is the most important day in Malaysia’s history since its independence. It was an emphatic victory for the opposition and defeat of Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was completely wiped out in a system set up for him to win.

“This is completely uncharted waters for Malaysia – a collection of opposition parties now need to form a coherent Government with a 92-year-old leader who has said he will stand down once he releases Anwar Ibrahim from jail.

“For a long time Australians have seen Malaysia as being quite predictable and even somewhat boring. In the past few years this has changed as Malaysia has been in the headlines as one of the most outlandish examples of corruption. Now, against all odds, they have had a change of Government; Malaysia is far from predictable.”

Miles Kupa
Visiting Fellow
ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs
Former High Commisioner to Malaysia
T: 0407 383 119

“It’s a remarkable upset, expected by very few observers and is a tribute to Dr Mahathir Mohamad, his endurance and resilience. It’s a very diverse coalition that he has successfully brought to power. 

“It is going to be quite a challenging period for the new Government, given its diversity and relative inexperience. They will have to sort out their cabinet positions and what their policies are, one wonders how much they have prepared for the reality of Government.”

Dr Amrita Malhi
ANU Malaysia Institute
ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs
T: 02 6125 9877

“It certainly is very significant. Some people say earthquake, some people say tsunami. Whatever kind of massive weather event you’d like to compare it with, it is very, very serious. Nothing like this has ever happened before, certainly not in my lifetime.

“Najib Razak looked like he had sealed up the system around him and that he was going to survive, but keep in mind there has not been a transition of power yet, he hasn’t acknowledged the election result and it looks like the Palace has not yet received any official communication from the electoral commission.” 

“There’s a fair constituency that is doubtful of Dr Mahathir, I think their concerns are serious and legitimate. Dr Mahathir has been doing his best to apologise for his past mistakes, to do his best to solve the problems he’s helped create and so we’re going to have to wait and see how much he can be trusted.”

“Najib Razak has options. He can accept the result. If he decides he’s going to pull a legislative trigger, there are major risks. Malaysia relies on its election to give the world the message that Malaysia is a democracy and if he doesn’t respect the result now he’s going to make it very difficult for people to decide what to do next.”

For media assistance call the ANU media hotline 02 6125 7979.

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