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Newly elected Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad leaving the National Mosque of Malaysia after Friday prayers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May 11, 2018 (AP photo by Sadiq Asyraf).

What an Election Stunner Means for Malaysia and Its Neighbors

Monday, May 14, 2018

In a result few pollsters and analysts predicted, including myself, last week Malaysia’s opposition coalition, led by 92-year-old former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, defeated the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Najib Razak in national elections that marked the first transfer of power in Malaysia’s modern history. The long-dominant United Malays National Organization, or UMNO, and the coalition it leads, Barisal Nasional, have governed Malaysia since its independence in 1957.

To the Najib government’s credit, despite rumors on election night and the following morning that it would take measures to defraud the voters, or prevent a change of government, the transition process was completed in an orderly and largely peaceful manner. The Election Commission, seemingly stacked with Najib loyalists, announced that the opposition coalition had won a majority of parliamentary seats, and the Malaysian king provided an audience to Mahathir and named him prime minister. ...

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