Reformasi (Malaysia)

Reformasi (Malaysia)

The "Reformasi" movement in Malaysia was initiated by Anwar Ibrahim and his supporters shortly after he was sacked as Deputy Prime Minister in 1998. It consisted of several mass demonstrations and rallies against the Barisan Nasional government, and continued until Anwar was arrested and jailed in late 1998, whereupon it slowly died down. The target of the "reformasi" campaign was then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who was perceived as corrupt and having stayed too long in office.

Criticism and commentary

In the 1998 APEC Summit in Kuala Lumpur, the then Vice President of the USA, Al Gore, gave a speech supporting Anwar and the Reformation movement in front of the Prime Minister of Malaysia and other Asia-Pacific premiers.

As a political commentator, former Deputy Prime Minister Musa Hitam remarked that "If the "reformasi" movement and demonstrations could be given any significance in terms of Malaysian politics — if there is anything that I could unhesitatingly come to [consider] a positive conclusion — it never turns racial. It's amazing. ... It is more issue-based than racial. I'm fascinated." Musa commented that prior to "reformasi", "any demonstration of any nature in Kuala Lumpur or Penang would always turn racial. Even if they were against the government, they would burn the Chinese shops." [Hwang, In-Won (2003). "Personalized Politics: The Malaysian State under Mahathir", p. 318. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN 981-230-185-2.]

Conclusion of "reformasi"

Reformasi led to the formation of a new multiracial-based party named Parti Keadilan Nasional. In the year 1999, the General Election was held. The new Parti Keadilan Nasional, Parti Islam Se-Malaysia, and Democratic Action Party formed a Barisan Alternatif, in a combined initiative to replace the government. For the first time in Malaysia's history, UMNO, a Malay-based party and the dominant party in Barisan Nasional, received less than half of the total Malays' vote.

The Barisan Nasional, however, remained the biggest coalition in the Parliament, owing to large support from non-Malays, who feared the instabilities which might occur if the ruling coalition was toppled, as what happened in May 13,1969. The movement appears to have died out after the 1999 General Election, and in the 2004 election, Parti Keadilan Nasional lost all of its seats in Parliament but one, which was held by its President, Wan Azizah, the wife of Anwar Ibrahim. The Barisan Nasional's outstanding victory was attributed to high expectations of the new Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, who succeeded Mahathir in October 2003.

However, Anwar Ibrahim was released from prison in September 2004 and Parti Keadilan Nasional re-emerged as Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). PKR made huge gains in the 2008 General Election, winning 31 Parliamentary seats and becoming the largest opposition party in Parliament. In addition, five of the eleven state governments in Peninsular Malaysia fell to the PKR, Parti Islam Se-Malaysia, and Democratic Action Party coalition. The Barisan Nasional government, for the first time since 1969, lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament.


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