‘New’ Malaysia: four key challenges in the near term

Politics Political development Political leadership Malaysia

In May 2018 Malaysia underwent its first regime change in its political history. This saw the return of Mahathir Mohamad as prime minster, 15 years after his first tenure as prime minster from 1981 to 2003. As the country heads towards the first anniversary of the Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) government, it is imperative that the momentum for political change is not stalled. This Analysis identifies four key areas that the new administration must deal with in the next 12 months: the Malay Agenda/Bumiputra Policy; the 1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63); political Islam; and a clear timetable for transition of power. These issues are not only crucial to the stability of the PH administration, but also for long-term institutional reforms. The first three issues are not new — they went on unresolved under the previous regime, leading to an increasingly dysfunctional political system and culminating in the change of government. The PH government has an opportunity to change Malaysia’s political trajectory if it takes steps to resolve these issues. The more immediate issue at the highest level of government is the promised transition of power to Anwar Ibrahim. If not handled properly, PH may turn out to be a one-term government and the country could revert to the old regime.

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