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A New Dawn for Malaysia

Network of Social Democracy in Asia Statement on the Democratic Action Party and Pakatan Harapan’s electoral victory

SocDem Asia congratulates the Democratic Action Party and Pakatan Harapan on their historic election victory during the recently concluded General Elections in Malaysia. This victory is significant in heralding a new era in Malaysia’s history. The Malaysian people’s overwhelming decision to repudiate the 60-year rule of the Barisan Nasional coalition is a victory of the democratic and progressive forces in Malaysia.

We would also like to note that this landslide victory for Pakatan Harapan is a convergence and culmination of decades of citizens’ movements for reform and good governance. The long journey starting twenty years ago under the banner of ‘Reformasi’ has translated into numerous expressions of citizen involvement and activism. Since then, Malaysia’s independent civil society and democratic forces have painstakingly carved the democratic space needed for this electoral victory. Proof of this is the popular Bersih movement created by this democratic space and a highly politicized generation of young Malaysians.

There is no doubt that Pakatan can govern. Pakatan has a wide bench of leaders who can steer Malaysia to a better future. The challenge is now to actualize their promise of hope for Malaysia. We see no better way to convey this message than the immediate release and political rehabilitation of Anwar Ibrahim along with the prosecution of those involved in the 1MDB scandal.

The incoming government must also be wary of possible attempts by the disgraced coalition Barisan Nasional to thwart reform. Malaysians must work with their newly elected democratic leaders to deepen the reforms in government and to dismantle the vestiges of the old corrupt system. The people have the duty to be vigilant against any attempt to rob them of their victory or steer their country towards a direction that they did not choose.

Lastly, we wish to point out that this electoral victory is a much-needed morale boost for the democratic and progressive forces of Asia. This new dawn for Malaysia is hope that there is a definite end to the darkness enveloping many countries in Asia. These democratic forces must work with the same vigour and hope to confront similar authoritarians.

The despots of Asia must now take notice. The populist and authoritarian tide will be met with a citizen-led surge in the elections, the streets or both.

Their days are numbered.