What is Happening in Malaysia?


It’s been a crazy few days in Malaysian politics: 94-year old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad resigned on Monday, only to return as interim Prime Minister a few hours later. Was this a coup to get rid of his successor-in-waiting (and former deputy turned rival turned ally) Anwar Ibrahim (left)? Or infighting in Mahathir’s political party? Nico Luchsinger writes for The Asia Society.

According to Bridget Welsh, Honorary Research Associate at the University of Nottingham Malaysia’s Asia Institute, a Senior Advisor for Freedom House, a member of the International Research Council of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and a core member of the Asian Barometer Survey……..

  1. The key to much of what is going on is the unresolved issue of who will succeed Mahathir. There are many people across the political spectrum who are interested in making sure that the successor will not be Anwar – and as long as there is no commitment and succession timetable, power plays are inevitable.
  2. What happened over the last few days was an attempted power grab by people from Mahathir’s party, defectors of Anwar’s party, and former ruling party UMNO to preclude Anwar from eventually succeeding Mahathir. But the move ultimately failed because Mahathir refused to collaborate with UNMO.
  3. As a result, what will happen next remains unclear: It could be a new government led by Mahathir or perhaps even Anwar; it could be new elections; or it could be ongoing political insecurity.

Listen to the full conversation here

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