Over the weekend, Malaysia was plunged into political uncertainty as politicians and parties tried to manoeuvre and out-manoeuvre one another. Mahathir Mohamad has resigned as prime minister—although he’s still serving as the interim prime minister at the moment—and plenty of horse-trading is going on as Malaysians wait to find out who will emerge victorious. (For a recap, check out our explainer.)

But the turmoil of the past weekend isn’t just about party statements and parliamentary seats; it also has an impact on the Malaysian people and the hopes that many had for a “new Malaysia”. New Naratif asked five artists to help make sense of the situation.

Gajah sama gajah berjuang… (When elephants fight with each other) by Charis Loke

“I keep thinking of the thousands of people serving in civil society and the government, whose work building bridges and futures is now at risk. How many policies and programmes—the decriminalisation of suicide, the abolishment of the mandatory death penalty, anti-stalking and anti-sexual harassment legislation, the economic stimulus package—are stalled or in danger of being abandoned, all because of political posturing? When politicians tussle, the people suffer.”


Kerajaan Pintu Belakang Dilarang Masuk No Entry To Backdoor Government by Fahmi Reza

“Dalam sebuah demokrasi rakyat adalah raja. Kita yang tentukan parti mana yang akan diberi kuasa untuk memerintah. Kalau mana-mana parti mahu ambil-alih Putrajaya, mereka perlu dapatkan mandat daripada rakyat, bukan masuk ikut pintu belakang.”

“In a democracy, the people are king. We decide who should be given the right to rule. Parties that want to take over Putrajaya should seek the people’s mandate, not enter through the back door.”


Generation Y: Will We Really Be Represented? by Kedung Ballang Kapong

“Malaysian Millennials or Generation Y were born in the golden years of Malaysian Development (1982–2004). One key event from that era was the initiation of Wawasan (Vision) 2020, which was considered a failure despite years of planning. As Gen Ys, we grew up seeing the same people that have governed us for years. Most of us by now are already in our 20s and 30s but yet the same people from our childhood are still holding on to power to this day. All we have done is follow; but when will we really be given a chance to lead?”


Berkat Rapuh / Fragile Blessings by Max Loh

“Adakala kita mudah lupa bahawa berkat-berkat kecil yang kita nikmati sekarang adalah hasil daripada titik peluh usaha perjuangan kita bersama. Apabila kita terpaksa untuk berjuang lagi untuk apa yang betul, kita perlu ingat kepada pengalaman dan pencapaian kita sejauh ini, untuk memperkuatan hati dan minda untuk teruskan perjuangan.”

“Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the little blessings we currently enjoy were hard-won. When we’re forced to struggle again for what’s right, it’s important to remember to draw upon our experiences that have gotten us thus far, to bolster ourselves for the journey ahead.”


Rakyat Harapan Rakyat (The People are the Hope of the People) by Sonia Luhong Wan

We are Harapan. We are Hope. Not any party, not any brand, not any VIP at the distant top; at the end of the day, we, the people, are the only ones who have kept, and can keep Hope alive—again and again, in spite of it all.”

Charis Loke

Charis is an illustrator based in Penang, Malaysia. Drawing upon literature and visual culture, she makes pictures that evoke wonder and curiosity. As a member of Arts-ED, she also works on community arts and culture education programmes for youth. Her work can be found at http://charisloke.com.

Charis is Comics Editor and Illustrations Editor for New Naratif. Reach her at charis.loke@newnaratif.com

Fahmi Reza

Fahmi Reza is a political graphic designer based in Kuala Lumpur. He has been arrested, charged, banned and sentenced to jail for his design work. He tweets at twitter.com/kuasasiswa

Kedung Ballang Kapong

Kedung Ballang Kapong, or Keds, is a Malaysian visual artist and muralist based in Kuching, Sarawak hailing from the Bario Highlands. She is a member of the Sarawakian multi-discipline arts collective 9Lives Borneo. Currently working as a digital content producer, she combines her interests in culture, music, empowerment, and tattoos through illustrations and stories in the description for added visualizations. Contact her at kedungbk.art@gmail.com and find more of her at on Instagram at @kedsss

Max Loh

Max Loh is an as-and-when comic artist who flits between Malaysia and Singapore. He enjoys whittling at complex issues with words and images, stringing them together with emotions. While on his journey to find the ideal middle ground of practicality and passion, he'll gladly stuff his face with all the food he can get his hands on. Reach him at jlloh86@gmail.com.

Sonia Luhong Wan

Currently engaged in the field of renewable energy, Sarawak-born Sonia Luhong Wan is a self-taught artist who believes in art as a powerful medium for education and awareness. @sonialuhong is where she rambles on Instagram.