The results of Malaysia's 14th general election have reversed the Barisan Nasional's (BN) six-decade-long grip on power, handing a stunning victory to the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH). It is clear that Malaysians across the ethnic spectrum want change. Singaporeans, who are tied to their neighbours by kinship, geography and history, naturally wish their Malaysian counterparts well. The Republic's Government made clear that it stood ready to work with whoever was the people's choice of leader in Malaysia, as it had done previously. While the choice of leadership is for Malaysians alone to make, Singaporeans and others abroad are gratified that the transfer of power has proceeded mostly smoothly and in accordance with the law.
It is clear that economic issues played a key role in Malaysians' withdrawal of support from the BN. The rising cost of living, the introduction of the unpopular goods and services tax, and the scandal at state-owned fund 1MDB linked to former prime minister Najib Razak had a deep impact on the ground. Many Malaysians asked what the government was doing for them as the problems ate into their standard of living. Although the economy has drawn reassuring assessments from international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, the national debt ballooned, the ringgit weakened and inflation hit the poor and the middle class. The benefits of Datuk Seri Najib's economic plans did not percolate down to the common man, at least to the extent of offsetting dissatisfaction with corruption.