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The Malaysia Surprise

The Malaysia Surprise

We’d love to tell you that Tuesday Signal author Alex Kliment profiled 92-year-old Mahathir Mohammad earlier this week because we knew he was about to be elected Malaysia’s next prime minister. Not quite. But we certainly suspected this was a story worth your time, whatever the election outcome. As it happens, Mahathir won, and the ruling party has been voted out for the first time in independent Malaysia’s 61-year history.

There are many ways to look at the outcome, but for now we’ll focus on this: This is another country where voters moved a seemingly immovable object, a coalition with a decades-long stranglehold on Malaysia’s politics, in favor of something new.

Mahathir is no fresh face. He created modern Malaysian politics. But he has promised to pass power to opposition leader, and former nemesis, Anwar Ibrahim, who awaits release from prison next month and a chance to win a seat in parliament via a special election.

That political handover, if and when it happens, will be even more interesting than this one.


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