Thursday, March 25, 2004

Next stop Indonesia

John Aglionby of the Guardian provides background to my analysis of the Malaysian elections.

The only international monitors of Malaysia's general election last Sunday were pretty scathing when presenting the initial findings of their mission: there were enough regulation violations and credible manipulation allegations for the poll's validity to be seriously questioned.

But even if their and the opposition's worst-case scenario is true, it is likely that only another 20-30 seats would have changed hands, which would still have given Malaysia's moderate, secular prime minister Abdullah Badawi the two-thirds majority he was looking for.
For all my praise of Abdullah Badawi, I acknowledge that UMNO stacks the deck in its own favor. Nonetheless, Malaysia has enjoyed far better governance over the last several decades under UMNO and the Barisan Nasional than most developing countries.

Aglionby downplays the interpretation of the poll results as the Malay electorate's emphatic rejection of an Islamic state, preferring to point out that PAS' success in the 1999 election sent an anti-Mahathir message rather than a pro-PAS one. However, the point still stands that even most ethnic Malay Muslim voters do not want an Islamic state.