The world pays little attention to Malaysia. But on May 5, it should. That is the day that Malaysia’s 13 million voters, of whom 20% are casting ballots for the first time, will choose a new parliament and decide their nation’s future. Without question, these will be the most important elections in Malaysia’s history, as well as the closest and most hard-fought. For the first time, there is a strong and united opposition, and Malaysia’s voters have a genuine choice. Voter enthusiasm is high, and both government and especially opposition rallies are attracting people in the tens of thousands.
As every Malaysian would have known by now, the Prime Minister announced the dissolution of Parliament and hence paved the way for the nation’s thirteenth general elections. With that in mind, it is hoped that both the major political coalitions (Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat) as well as regional parties will engage their opponents in a constructive and meaningful manner, instead of the dirty tactics that we have seen — most especially during the Mahathir era.
Much has been said about Datuk Dr. Hasan Ali, the former Selangor state commissioner of the party and (previously) a state Exco in the Pakatan Rakyat state government, in the past few weeks. Some had claimed that the reason for the decision to sack him was because of outside pressure from PAS’ partners, DAP and PKR and that the PAS leadership had bowed down to others. Others have said that the reason Hasan Ali was sacked was because of his so-called “activism” against apostasy and the set-up of a counter-apostasy unit borne by the department under his portfolio (religious affairs) and therefore Hasan Ali’s sacking is a detriment to the cause of Islam itself. Even more ludicrous is the claim by Hasan Ali himself that he was sacked on the orders of Anwar Ibrahim!