The beginning of a new chapter for Malaysia

Pakatan Harapan defied the odds to win the 14th general election and now is the time for the new government to deliver on its promises.
Pakatan Harapan defied the odds to win the 14th general election and now is the time for the new government to deliver on its promises. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The country's general election just ended, the victors in jubilant mood and the losers still shell-shocked by the trouncing. The message from Malaysians, cutting across all races, has not merely been clear, but deafening, too.

For the first time in the nation's history, the people voted single-mindedly. Race and religion, aces up the Barisan Nasional's sleeve in previous polls, were no longer attractive propositions to the electorate.


The gerrymandering, malapportionment and delineation exercise, which were said to have benefited Barisan, failed to fire in the end.

The majority of Malaysians - including most rural voters - wanted change, and they got their wish.

It was not a Malay tsunami, but a Malaysian typhoon, which decimated most in its wake as it swept across the country. For once, the Chinese were not blamed. No one can ask, "Apa lagi Cina mau?" because the massive defeat of the Barisan couldn't have happened without the bulk of Malay and Muslim voters pushing for this historic change.

As political analysts painstakingly comb through the statistics of each constituency, it's likely that rural voters joined other Malaysians in voicing their dissatisfaction.

The only difference was that, while urbanites were louder and visible at rallies, these modest folk kept their decisions to themselves, and it was the silence of this majority which finally turned the wind and waves into a cataclysmic storm.


The euphoria that greeted the collapse of the Barisan government clearly reflected the pent up frustrations, if not, anger and disenchantment, of most Malaysians.

The unbridled joy, the celebrations, the gloating, the taunting, and even the call for heads to roll, are commonplace in any post-elections scenario.

In a general election, there has to be a winner and loser, the winner always the nation and its people. Despite emotions being explosive during campaigning, we can hold our heads high because the general election concluded peacefully.

It was a watershed moment the world watched closely, and we proved to everyone that Malaysia isn't a half-baked democracy.

Democracy works just as well in Malaysia, and that has been proven through a 60-year-old government, with all its might and unlimited resources, being sent tumbling down.

Malaysians fully exercised their democratic rights, and did so with unwavering commitment as they waited patiently for hours, just to mark their choices on ballot papers.

More importantly, the loser - Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak - conceded defeat, and then extended his congratulations to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Most of Barisan's top brass were quick to relay their readiness to congratulate the winners, although it must have been a bitter pill to swallow. The rule of law was respected and upheld, and that's precisely what a nation, aspiring to be a developed country, should be about. Those are the standards we have to live up to.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin apologised to his supporters for the disappointing outcome, saying, "I am sorry we let you down. To those who did not (vote for us), I respect your decision."

He was quick to call for an orderly and smooth transfer of power as rumours swirled on social media with results trickling in, a monumental night when Malaysians learnt Barisan lost.

Democracy put its shoulder to the wheel for 11 momentous days. Despite the furious finger-pointing, distrust and accusations of a rigged elections, we managed to reach the end of a roller-coaster ride in which we commanded the respect and appreciation of world leaders.

Now is the time for the new government to deliver on its promises. As the new Prime Minister has said - there is much work to be done.

Ahead of the fasting month, it is perhaps time to calm down and reflect. It is time for reconciliation, healing and bringing the nation together. This is what democratic values should spell out, especially since Malaysia has witnessed enough politicking.

The electorate's voice for a system in dire need of a reboot is loud and clear, and given their undying desire for change, the people of Malaysia will support the new government to make things better for us all. We may have different allegiances, but we all share a common destiny and wish - to make Malaysia better.

Dr Mahathir has started the government well with his announcement of top Cabinet positions. The appointment of Mr Lim Guan Eng as Finance Minister shows that race is no longer an issue for key jobs. The composition of the council of elders includes many eminent personalities, Mr Robert Kuok a prime example.

Credit must be given where due, and Malaysians hope that meritocracy will now be the basis of all appointments, including that of government-linked companies. Let this be a new beginning, and new way of administration, which Malaysians want to see.

Congratulations to Dr Mahathir and the Pakatan Harapan federal government for their success in winning the general elections, and may the best plans be laid for Malaysians and our country, so we can all benefit as one people.

(Wong Chun Wai is the group managing director and chief executive officer of The Star Media Group. This commentary first appeared in The Star's On The Beat column on May 13).