SINGAPORE (Apr 16): The next general election has been variously characterised as a “do or die battle” or the “mother of all elections” between the ruling Barisan Nasional and the opposition Pakatan Harapan. A more nuanced take is that the coming general election will have profound consequences for the ruling and opposition coalitions.

Malaysian general elections are often routine and predictable affairs, with BN slated to score a big win and so continue to hold the reins of the government, while the opposition is expected to clinch some seats and carry on with their “critical” role, as is typical with the illiberal democracy practised in many a developing country. The first time this “arrangement” was rudely shaken up was perhaps in 1969, when the Alliance coalition — the predecessor of the BN — barely won the general election and the opposition parties collectively broke its stranglehold on the two-thirds majority in parliament required for constitutional amendments.

Racial clashes ensued in what is referred to as the May 13 incident. There are various schools of thought about the real causes, but the upshot was quite massive casualties. The first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, stepped down in the aftermath and the country was essentially ruled by decree for two years.

To continue reading,

Sign in to access this Premium article.

Subscription entitlements:

Less than $9 per month
3 Simultaneous logins across all devices
Unlimited access to latest and premium articles
Bonus unlimited access to online articles and virtual newspaper on The Edge Malaysia (single login)

Stay updated with Singapore corporate news stories for FREE

Follow our Telegram | Facebook