In case you have missed out on the media circus and fanfare that pervaded the turn of events in Malaysia over the weekend, here’s a quick recap:
(a) Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad resigns, which resulted in the falling of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.
(b) Dr Mahathir also resigned from his position as chariman of PPBM.
(c) Dr Mahathir is assigned to be interim Prime Minister by the King.
Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as Malaysia’s Prime Minister.
Even though many Singaporeans had been amused by how Dr Mahathir had been outsmarted and did not get his way this time, former Permanent Secretary of MFA Mr Bilahari Kausikan, noted that the events would “not be good for Singapore”. The reason being that stability in Malaysia will benefit us but things have not been stable in our neighbouring country for the past two years.
Mr Bilahari “does not expect things to stabilise under the new government’. He opined that PH had won largely due to the citizens’ outrage over the outrageous corruption revealed by the 1MBD scandal. However, PH’s rule would not be sustainable in the long run as it only received about 30 per cent of the Malay vote.
Mr Bilahari’s friend, an UMNO old guard, shared that politics in Malaysia is always primarily about Malay power. Last week’s events demonstrated that Malay dominance eventually over-rides all other considerations.
The Muyhiddin government is one in which Malay parties are clearly dominant. However, we cannot take for granted that it will be stable.
Malaysia is likely to use Singapore to rally the Malay ground and support. In addition, a distracted Malaysia that is led by a government likely to be under constant attack by Dr Mahathir will not be one “with whom meaningful cooperation will be easy”.
Singaporeans can be quietly grateful that we have a different system but we should not be blinded to the instability in Malaysian politics and how it could affect us.