Regardless of the official results of yesterday’s election, one thing is clear — 57 years after liberation from the British empire, Malaysia has yet to liberate itself from the underlying racial-religious phobias that trouble an otherwise successful Asian economy.
Many people were looking at the country’s 13th general election as a do-or-die mission for Prime Minister Najib Razak, as his Barisan Nasional (BN) faced its stiffest challenge ever from the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance led by Anwar Ibrahim. Those who disdained the competition called it a choice between two devils.
The rest of the election was more or less the same as in other Southeast Asian or developing nations — costly in terms of campaign spending and pledges, innovative in its pitches for support and appeals to voters. Of special note, though, was the creativity of online campaigning, since most of the mainstream media in Malaysia are firmly in the grip of the government and its cronies, and the opposition gets barely a mention.
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