Saturday, May 11, 2013


The Straits Times (ST) is a Singapore English daily, the New Straits Times (NST) is a Malaysian English daily It is easy to confuse the two..

This morning I had an interesting chat with a group of Singapore friends. They had many questions to ask about the results of Malaysia's 13th General Elections held last Sunday 5 May. Were all the allegations of elections fraud true? Is the situation tense in Malaysia? Are the people happy with BN's win? Will Najib be the new PM for the next five years? What do the results mean for the country's future?

I was told that Singaporeans had been following the elections keenly. The Straits Times had dispatched a team of 15 correspondents and photographers to several key towns to provide up-to-the-minute reports and analyses of GE13.

Extract from the ST:

RARELY has there been an election campaign up north that has drawn so much attention from Singaporeans. Both online and off, in coffee shops and offices, Malaysia's general election has proved to be quite a talking point.

Part of it was simply due to the fact that the Barisan Nasional (BN) stronghold of Johor - Singapore's closest neighbour - was in play for the first time in decades.

Suddenly, the Malaysians who live in Singapore or who commute here for work became an important constituency. Johor chief minister Abdul Ghani Othman even spent half a day visiting Singapore during the campaign.

The other, bigger reason, was the possibility of a regime change.

(Click here to read more.)

This shouldn't come as a surprise as Singapore and Malaysia share a common history. Many Singaporeans have family members in Malaysia, many of the republic's corporate leaders were born in Malaysia, and thousands of Malaysians study and work in Singapore.

So how have Singaporeans reacted to the news that BN has won?

Going by the reports in the ST, the BN's win was generally welcomed as it meant Singapore-Malaysia ties would continue unaffected, and there would be no disruptions in business deals especially for Singapore companies that have invested heavily in the Iskandar region in Johor.

I am sure the Singapore PAP government is also relieved as the results send a subtle message to the people that it is not that easy for the opposition to topple the ruling party.

My Singapore friends praised the courage of Malaysians for uniting and standing up against what they see as injustice and corruption. I had to agree with them. Malaysians are no longer afraid to speak out against what they see as injustice and corruption. Riot police, tear gas and water cannons no longer stop them. The threat of arrest no longer cows them into silence.

The massive crowd that turned up at Kelana Jaya stadium on 8 May to protest against the GE13 results. Despite having only two days to organize the rally, the turnout was beyond expectations, thanks to social media, 

They say there is strength in numbers. This is so true in the Malaysian context. That is where the courage springs from - the knowledge that there are hundreds of thousands who share the same aspirations and want the same things for themselves and their children. That they are not alone. That is what has galvanized the people to come together as one united front to press for justice.

Power will always belong to the people. History has repeatedly shown this to be so.

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