Malaysia is a successful example of a democratic Islamic state. Despite murmurs of discontent among hard-line Muslims in some states, Malaysia is unlikely to abandon moderate Islam. Despite having two other significant minority races (Chinese and Indians), Malaysia has not been rocked by any major racial unrest since 1969, lending credence to its sustainable multi-racial society.
The Malay half of the population holds a constitutionally enshrined special position in society, amounting to positive discrimination in not only jobs, but also wealth. Resentment is an obvious by-product, and the challenge is to produce enough prosperity to reduce tension.
The controversial Internal Security Act (ISA) – which allows for detention without trial – has been wielded by the government on several occasions with the explicit reason to quell unrest. However, some detentions have been viewed as an attempt by the government to suppress the opposition.
The relatively weak performance by the ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) in the general elections held on March 8 2008, has paved the way for the stalled reformist agenda – promised by former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi back in 2004 – to gather pace. This would help to open up the country’s closed political system and improve transparency and accountability within key institutions.
Newly-appointed Prime Minister Najib Razak came into power promising reforms and changes. His actions have thus far been promising, potentially paving the way for a significant overhaul of Malaysia’s political and economic system.
UMNO Cawangan Bandar Klang Selatan response: There is high chances to achieve better political and economic with respect from the strong spirit towards reform and implementation processes by the current PM.
Ethnic tension will remain a non-violent, but simmering, problem, so long as there remains a threat that the influence of hardline Islam could revive. For now, however, the hardliners have lost much of their political clout.
Despite a change of premier in April 2009, the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition will remain under pressure from a resurgent opposition. Failure to adequately deal with issues such as corruption, a slowing economy and the divisive affirmative action policy could yet see Anwar Ibrahim’s opposition coalition force the Barisan Nasional from power.