GE15 in the eyes of a Malaysian student abroad

[FMT] GE15 in the eyes of a Malaysian student abroad

From Enson Ng

After five days of political stalemate, Anwar Ibrahim has been sworn in as our 10th Prime Minister.

As a student overseas, keeping up with general election (GE15) news from abroad was an interesting experience.

I did not have the opportunity to feel the heated and nervous atmosphere among Malaysians, but I suppose this allowed me to have a bird’s-eye view of how events progressed.

I avoided participating in political discussions on social media because I wanted to listen. I was curious about the reasoning that led to the comments online – whether positive or negative.

For some Malaysians, this represents a new hope for the country. I, too, am moved by the outcome of the election – not because of the candidates but because of the hope it has sparked.

As such, I aim to delve deeper into why GE15 will usher in an era of hope for the nation and the people, when it comes to government stability, democracy, and the brain drain.

Some may argue that this is not Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) first time governing the country, therefore, it cannot be a new hope.

Indeed, PH made history in 2018 by subverting the seemingly unbeatable Barisan Nasional (BN).

However, the coalition collapsed after 22 months following the infamous Sheraton Move.

Some felt betrayed because the formation of the new government by Perikatan Nasional (PN) did not reflect the voices of the general populace. It was not done through elections but rather the defection of several MPs.

Nonetheless, on Oct 5 this year, the anti-hopping legislation took effect prohibiting MPs from switching parties for expediency.

As such, the unity government will unlikely collapse in a similar fashion this time around, and it will have a full five years to establish its credibility and authority.

A stable government is advantageous from both a political and economic standpoint. Politicians are given time to implement significant changes, allowing them to demonstrate their competence.

A stable, competent government is also essential for economic development because economic policies must be coherent.

This is only possible with an anchored government in which the majority of political leaders share the same visions. In light of this, Malaysians have every reason to feel reinvigorated and optimistic – it is a new hope for the country.

Having said that, ironically and inevitably, the price of democracy is political instability.

To my mind, this election has demonstrated the strength of democracy in Malaysia.

Some may argue that the 2018 general election (GE14) adequately exemplified the notion of democracy. However, I believe it was merely a glimmer, as the subsequent collapse of the government undermined the mandate of the voters.

Nevertheless, given that BN ruled for more than 60 years, the political instability of recent years is not only welcome, but demonstrates that change is possible in Malaysia.

Moreover, it sends a powerful message to all Malaysians: you have the ability to determine the course of our nation.

After all, citizen participation is a central tenet of democracy, and I am confident that this election will encourage Malaysians to become more politically active.

In turn, voters will scrutinise leaders’ performance, which will help keep the government accountable.

For if you do not keep your promises and uphold your principles, we will unite to pursue change. Therefore, Malaysians have good reason to be hopeful about the nation’s political landscape.

As a Malaysian student overseas, the brain drain is an issue close to my heart.

Nearing graduation, students are confronted with the conundrum of whether to remain abroad for lucrative salaries or return home to begin their careers.

I have the good fortune to have been awarded a scholarship to pursue my studies, so my decision is straightforward. However, this is not the case for my friends, and this question keeps them up at night.

In Malaysia, notable institutions such as the World Bank have conducted extensive research on the phenomenon of brain drain.

According to EMIR Research, poor governance and corruption are among the factors that drive talented individuals to seek employment opportunities abroad.

“Politics in Malaysia is hopeless” is a commonly heard statement.

Admittedly, it irritates me when I hear such statements from privileged Malaysian students studying abroad.

In my opinion, we ought to be a part of the change, and this election demonstrates palpably that we can.

Scholarships and talent retention programmes aside, I am convinced that the recent shift in our political climate will play a significant role in reversing the brain drain in our nation.

This election will not only inspire domestic voters, but also Malaysians living abroad to partake in change. For we can all be hopeful about the future of our country.

Throughout the political impasse, Malaysians were put through a roller-coaster ride.

Some were initially enraged when PN announced that they held the majority.

After BN chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi denied the possibility of a partnership with PN, they lavished him with praise.

Now that Anwar has been appointed prime minister, social media is flooded with positive comments.

After enduring this roller-coaster ride, Malaysians deserve to be hopeful about what is in store for the nation.


Enson Ng is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

Source: FMT