Reforming home, away from home: overseas voting in Malaysia’s General Election

It was a race against time when overseas Malaysian voters had barely a day to get their ballots back in time- most could not have done so if not for casual couriers awaiting at Heathrow Airport.

180510 GE14
On 9th May 2018, Malaysia held its 14th General Election (GE14) which would determine the country’s Parliament for the next five calendar years.

For the past 61 years since independence in 1957, the Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition had been the governing party of the country with the last Prime Minister before GE14 being Dato’ Sri Najib Razak, having held his position since 2008.

180510 GE14 BN Logo

(The Barisan Nasional logo.)

Fast forward to 2018, Barisan Nasional faces a historic defeat at the hands of Pakatan Harapan (Pact of Hope) led by Malaysia’s former Prime Minister, Tun Dato’ Sri Dr. Mahatir Mohamad.

180510 GE14 PKR Logo

(The Pakatan Harapan logo.)

This win, however, was made despite the problems that had arose.

Most notably for registered overseas Malaysians voters who reported to have received their ballots late, even receiving them on election day itself and then having to send the ballots back before polling stations close to be considered a valid vote. As a result, many overseas voters teamed up through social media and organized to have their ballots brought back home through casual couriers.

Michelle Liu, a 3rd year Law student at the University of Essex, was the only one in the university to have managed to send her ballot back.

She shares her thoughts on why it was significant to get it back in time, and what changes she is hoping from the country with this handover of governance.

Pakatan Harapan won 113 seats in the lower house of Parliament, and have been informally aligned with the Sabah Heritage Party who had won another 8 seats, giving the alliance a total of 121 seats in the new Parliament, enough to form a government and ending Barisan Nasional’s rule of 61 years.

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