SINGAPORE (May 14): Words cannot begin to describe how we feel, sitting here, writing this article with tears in our eyes and hope in our hearts. We had our regular piece all laid out and ready to go. But how could we not write about this incredible, unbelievable event in history?

On Thursday, May 10, 2018, many Malaysians woke up (at least those who went to bed, many did not) to a new Malaysia. It is literally the dawn of a new era, the first change in government after 60 years of independence. Against all odds and what seemed like insurmountable obstacles, Malaysians prevailed. We, the people, did it.

We thought this day would never come. The battles we fought and the risks we took resulted in recriminations and accusations. Even friends started to stand some steps away, afraid to be seen with us. Vindication has been a long time coming. But, if anything, it has served to reinforce our belief — we have to do what is right.

We have never been more hopeful. Make no mistake, expectations are high and there are likely to be disappointments along the way.

Foreign investors will do what foreign investors do — sell first and ask questions later. The stock and bond markets may fall on Monday when trading resumes, and the ringgit may see extended losses.

Most analysts and fund managers were betting on — and positioned for — a Barisan Nasional victory. They will now claim the resulting uncertainties as reasons to sell.

This is true. There will be policy uncertainties in the short term. For instance, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) manifesto calls for the abolition of GST and targeted fuel subsidies. How will these be funded? Will it lead to a larger fiscal deficit? If so, how will that affect our sovereign credit rating? What of the various mega infrastructure projects that have been announced?

But let us not be myopic. Change in government happens all the time, everywhere in the world — from the largest superpowers such as the US and UK to our own neighbours, Indonesia and the Philippines. Policies change with each new incoming government. Change is nothing to be afraid of.

This day is historic for Malaysians only because it is the first change in government and — now that it has happened — it is unlikely to be the last. It sets us on the path to a true two-party democracy.

There is no guarantee that PH will be better, cleaner and more democratic or that the press will be freer. But the point is that the ability to change the government would ensure that those who govern are mindful that they will be held to account.

This will, in turn, help restore and protect the independence and integrity of our institutions — to check against abuses, corruption, rent seeking and so on. The inconvenience of democracy is a necessity for human dignity and freedom.

The Edge has played and will continue to play its role positively for the people and the nation. We will always be a free, independent media that will do what is right in the public interest.

So, yes, we have never been more hopeful.


Tong Kooi Ong is chairman of The Edge Media Group, which owns The Edge Singapore

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This article appeared in Issue 830 (May 14) of The Edge Singapore.

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