Chin-Huat Wong

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Just Lost an Election? Join the Winning Side

Call them “hoppers,” call them “frogs,” as soon as the surprise outcome of Malaysia’s recent election became clear, politicians from the losing parties started jumping over to the winners’ side. The moment the long-ruling coalition Barisan Nasional was voted out of power on May 9, it started to disintegrate.

But even with Pakatan Harapan, a collection of long-suffering underdog parties, now in charge, the mass defections already are endangering Malaysia’s democracy: The system risks swinging from being dominated by one overbearing coalition to being dominated by another overbearing coalition.

When ballot counting ended on May 10, the morning after the election, Pakatan Harapan (and its regional ally in the state of Sabah) had won 122 out of 222 seats in the lower house of Parliament.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mahathir Mohamad, 92, was the country’s prime minister from 1981 to 2003. Credit Mohd Rasfan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Facing a tricky general election later this year, on Sunday the political opposition in Malaysia named its candidate to head the government: Mahathir Mohamad, who was the country’s prime minister from 1981 to 2003.

The choice may seem curious. Mr. Mahathir is 92 years old. He is a former patron-turned-foe of both the current prime minister, the embattled Najib Razak, and the opposition’s longtime leader, the imprisoned Anwar Ibrahim. This appointment also makes Mr. Mahathir, at least nominally, the main challenger to the very system he helped build during his decades in power.

It’s a controversial move on the part of the opposition — and it’s brilliant.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protester’s scarf bearing the logo of the Bersih, an electoral-reform movement, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in November. Mohd Daud/NurPhoto, via Getty Images

How does he do it? How does Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia stay in power despite allegations that he embezzled $1 billion from a sovereign wealth fund?

Corruption is nothing new here, but the scale and implications of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) affair are staggering. It may be the world’s largest money-laundering scandal involving a sitting head of government. The case is being investigated by authorities in at least six foreign states, including the U.S. Justice Department.

Yet there’s been no mutiny within Mr. Najib’s party, no vote of censure in Parliament, no mass protests. In both 2015 and 2016, tens of thousands of supporters of Bersih, an electoral-reform movement, took to the streets calling for Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »