Friday, September 26, 2008


It's as if an entire nation is holding its breath.

Malaysia's embattled Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has already said he will give up power to take responsibility for the ruling coalition's humiliating performance in polls earlier this year. But Abdullah hasn't specified exactly when he might hand over the reins to his deputy, Najib Razak, even though the government's popularity figures are languishing at a record low.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, whose People's Alliance did surprisingly well in the March elections, boasts that he has lured enough defectors from the governing alliance to form a new government. But despite promising to unveil his new team in mid-September, Anwar hasn't shown the goods yet. As the political standoff heightens, Malaysians can only sit and hope that someone will soon tackle the nation's problems: a growing racial divide, a lagging economy, a judiciary whose independence has been questioned, and, most fundamentally, a sense that things in Malaysia aren't quite right.

No one doubts that Malaysian politics are about to undergo a sea change. The only questions are when and how - and those are big questions in a country that is trying to secure its status as a model Muslim-majority democracy.


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