Malaysia: Historic Defeat for Ruling Corrupt Clique of Barisian Nasional

The Pakatan Harapan Opposition Alliance Wins General Election and Forms New Government - for a Revolutionary Workers Government!


By Joseph Adams, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, 08 June 2018,




On May 9th the Barisian Nasional (National Front) government who has ruled Malaysia since 1963 were defeated in the 2018 General election. Mired in corruption, former Prime Minister Najib Razak could end up on trial.


“But the biggest story out of Malaysia in recent years has been corruption. Najib Razak had set up a special fund to encourage foreign investment. But people involved in it have been accused of using it for their personal gain. Najib was even accused of pocketing $700m. Importantly, he has always denied this and has been cleared of wrongdoing at home, but he and the fund are still being investigated by several countries, including the US, so it's been damaging for Malaysia's reputation”. [1]


Mahathir Mohammed, a former colleague of Razak who broke with him, led the Alliance of Hope - the Pakatan Harapan opposition alliance – who now rules Malaysia. For the working masses and the oppressed this result has brought to power another bourgeois opposition party who will still continue to rule Malaysia as a capitalist country very much influenced by the two major imperialist powers – the USA and China.


“But two years ago he [Mahathir Mohammed, Ed.] shocked everyone by saying he was so "embarrassed" by the corruption allegations that he was leaving his old party and would join the opposition, the Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope). Then in January, he said he would directly challenge his former mentee in the election, saying he felt confident of victory "unless Najib cheats". And there were a lot of cheating allegations during the election: people said they didn't get their postal ballot, and the government rigged some constituencies in a way critics said would help it win.” [2]


Anwar Ibrahim, a liberal politician and a former political ally of Mahathir, has been jailed several times by both Razak and Mohammed on trumped charges of sodomy. He has now been given a pardon and released. He is likely to take over from Mahathir who is in his nineties.


During the election campaign the Razak regime has offered inducements to switch political sides. Vote buying is endemic in Malaysia.


“The ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, has faced criticism for alleged vote-buying. The Nikkei Asian Review has noted that measures like cash bonuses being handed out to civil servants and pensioners, key components of its support base, occurred just before the dissolution of the lower house of Parliament, with other measures announced during the campaign trail including "special aid" of RM500 (US$127) and reserved social housing units for employees of government-linked company DRB-HICOM as well as minimum wage increases”. [3]


Bourgeois politics in Malaysia has known big inequalities between the ruling elites, the middle class and the workers, poor peasants and urban poor. It has a constitutional elective monarchy. Out of all the countries in South East Asia Malaysia has the 3rd largest economy which largely benefits the upper echelons of the bourgeoisie. A largely agricultural country some decades ago, Malaysia has become a relatively industrialized nation. Furthermore, it is now a major exporter of rubber, Palm oil and petroleum. It was affected by the 1997 Asian financial crisis but recovered well compared to other Asian countries.


There are many refugees from Myanmar, the Philippines and Indonesia. There are severe penalties and repressive laws against non-Malay people living in Malaysia - detention without trial, sedition act, a police act and sexual harassment particularly if you are an LGBT. It is a majority Muslim country with strict Sharia laws over personal and domestic matters. Human rights abuses are common with its repressive and unjust laws.


“The country is especially well known for arresting persons without warrants and detaining them indefinitely without trial, and for placing strict limitations on freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association in the name of social order. Among the other problems cited in a US State Department report in 2011 are the abuse and even death of persons held by police; punishment by caning; trafficking in persons; systematic official to safeguard the interests of ethnic Malays who have been economically marginalized and demographically outnumbered by non-Malays since the fall of Malacca to the Portuguese and Singapore to the overseas Chinese.”


“Perhaps the best known of these laws is the Internal Security Act, which was passed in 1960; three years after the nation gained its independence from the United Kingdom. Widely viewed as draconian, it permits long-term detention without trial, and over the decades has been used systematically against individuals who have been viewed, for various reasons, as threats to Malaysia's government or to the “social order”. Another powerful and widely employed piece of legislation, which dates back to 1948, when Malaysia was still a British colony, is the Sedition Act, which criminalizes speech or writing that is considered to be seditious”. [4]


Both bourgeois political groupings are orientated towards imperialist powers – either American or Chinese. But this will not improve or change social inequalities in society in Malaysia. What is required is a revolutionary workers government led by a revolutionary workers party.


The RCIT welcomes discussions and collaboration with militants and revolutionaries in Malaysia about a program for revolutionary change and the advance of the struggle for socialism. This could constitute the basis to build a revolutionary workers party in Malaysia.