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A new dawn in Malaysia

Mahathir and Pakatan Harapan have achieved a stunning election victory. Now they must deal with major challenges, not least how to make their unlikely coalition work effectively.

Nobody saw it coming. Sure, we all knew that Malaysia's 14th general election (GE14) would be a close contest. But we also knew that Umno was going to employ every trick in the book to ensure its Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition retained power. In fact, the widely held view on the eve of the election was that although BN will lose the popular vote, it would still be able to retain political power in Malaysia's highly disproportionate electoral system.

This was supposed to be the "foregone conclusion" after a redelineation exercise was rushed through Parliament at the eleventh hour, no doubt intended to create a situation reminiscent of 2013 when the incumbent managed to transform a 3 per cent deficit in popular vote into a comfortable 21-seat winning margin.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2018, with the headline 'A new dawn in Malaysia'. Print Edition | Subscribe