How is Malaysia politically

There has never been anything like this in Malaysia: demonstrations by tens of thousands of people in Kuala Lumpur demanding the resignation of the head of government. Then there are also mostly Malays who put such a pressure on a government led by Malaysians.

The callous dismissal of Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, his exclusion from the ruling UMNO party, his arrest under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and finally the charges against him for corruption and sexual misconduct, put Malaysia in a serious political crisis bestows; and all of this in the midst of the worst economic crisis the country has ever experienced since independence.

In recent years, Anwar has always been considered the favorite child and successor to Prime Minister Mahathir, who has been unchallenged for 17 years. Opinions may differ on Anwar's rise from critic of the government to second in government, but Anwar is clearly a victim of the `` authoritarian-democratic '' regime in Malaysia under Mahathir.

The events have led to the fact that especially the Malay part of the population no longer has confidence in the government. According to polls by the ruling party, it is 70 percent. As long as economic growth, prosperity and existential security seemed guaranteed for the vast majority of the population, the restrictions on fundamental rights could still be tolerated. Now the painful experience is being made that the consolidation of the arbitrary rule of a political elite in association with the local economic bosses has been allowed and demands reforms and democracy.

Mahathir probably did not expect such massive domestic resistance as protests from abroad. Even in the neighboring countries of Indonesia and the Philippines, their presidents `` secretly '' showed solidarity with Anwar. The ongoing calls for reform and democracy from broad sections of society, regardless of adherence to Anwar, signal a new process of political awareness among sections of the Malay population. It is no longer about politics in the interests of one or the other ethnic group in the country, but about the demand for basic political rights and a constitutional state in a civil society for the entire population of Malaysia. The fact that the government critics have so far not heard any ethnic undertones in relation to the economic crisis or the political conflict, for example against the Chinese as in Indonesia, shows that the political culture of Malaysia is maturing.

So far, the government side also seemed to avoid all ethnic subjects in the dispute. A change on their part seems to be imminent: while the prevailing, state-loyal media had barely reported on the unrest in Indonesia, in the second half of November they published large-format reports on the riots against the Chinese in Indonesia. This is to commemorate the race riots in Malaysia on May 13, 1969. The arrest of the chairman of GERAK and human rights activist, Tian Chua, indicates that the government is now also ready to attack the opposition non-governmental organizations and parties. Mass arrests, like those eleven years ago during Operation Lallang, are expected. At that time, over 120 leading figures from this opposition spectrum were arrested after the ISA under the pretext of the danger of racial unrest.

The economic and political crisis in Malaysia is far from over. The reputation of Mahathir and his government has been seriously damaged. It is encouraging that so many Malaysians, despite the threat of repression, are defending themselves against arbitrary rule and calling for the restoration of basic democratic rights and the rule of law. But unfortunately the organized oppositional forces in Malaysia are still weak and have very different political orientations. It will be difficult for them to formulate common political alternatives, let alone implement them.