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Election 101: Malaysia GE15

The act of change does not stop at the ballot box.

After waiting with bated breath, Malaysians finally have their 10th prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim. As we navigate through uncharted waters, we will be keeping a close eye on how the unity government will lead the country. At this time, we believe in the need to engage in what L. Ayu Saraswati calls the “politics of otherwise”, to think outside the boundaries of “conventional” politics.

The act of change does not stop at the ballot box, it must be exercised through civil society, constant demands for accountability, as well as to problematise the confluence of money and politics, among others. But what we also need to remember are the various ways in which the narratives surrounding how we imagine Malaysia operate, especially in periods of contestation.

New Naratif is teaming up with Between the Lines to answer any burning questions you may have. What does forming a unity government mean? How does this affect state elections? Send in your questions by November 30 and sign up for our newsletter for the latest stories and events.

GE15 was the first since the implementation of the Constitution (Amendment) Act 2019, which saw the voting age lowered to 18 alongside the automatic registration of anyone eligible to vote. As a result, there were almost 7 million new voters this GE15, increasing the number of voters to over 21 million in comparison to GE14 where there were 14.9 million voters.

But democracy is not limited to accessing the ballot box and casting a vote. For that reason, New Naratif is committed to bringing our Malaysian community the information needed to be able to make informed decisions in the general election and how to continue contributing to a more democratic Malaysia beyond the first step of voting.

We do not cover the day-to-day “horse race” of an election, but rather focus on explaining how the electoral system in Malaysia works, and in particular, the underlying structural issues which undermine democracy and accountability. We hope our readers will use these articles to discuss the issues and to stay informed as we venture into this new political landscape.


What can I do as rakyat Malaysia?

The General Election should not be about the politicians and elites—it should be about the rakyat.

Educate yourself with our Reading List.

We have written much on Malaysian politics and general affairs over the years. There is much to be done, but the process can begin with our curated reading list below.

Engage yourself with your community.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to stay updated on the latest events and stories! Collective action begins with a community. Connect with our community to engage in positive change.

Empower your community.

We hold events to empower the people of Southeast Asia by equipping them with all the tools needed to make positive changes in their communities and become fully engaged, participatory citizens. Participate in our events! It takes tools to take action.


Starter Pack: Explainers

Explainer: Malaysia’s Electoral System

This brief article presents an overview of the Federation of Malaysia’s (Malaysia) electoral system, how it works, how and why it has been altered over the years, and the challenge it presents for representative democracy in Malaysia.

How does the Malaysian Election work?

Reading List

The Citizens’ Agenda Malaysia 2022 | Free & Fair Elections | East Malaysia | GE14 | Politics 101 | Democracy 101

The Citizens’ Agenda Malaysia 2022

The 22 Most Important Issues Facing Malaysia in 2022

In Stage 1 of The Citizens’ Agenda 2022, New Naratif asked Malaysians what they think are the most important issues facing Malaysia, and what they’d like political candidates to talk about in the next general election. Here’s what our readers said (and didn’t say).


Free & Fair Elections

Undi18: Malaysian Youth Fight to Lower the Voting Age

On this episode of Southeast Asia Dispatches, Deborah Augustin speaks to Lim Wei Jiet, one of the co-founders of the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance, Malaysia’s first youth-driven political party, about their thoughts on this voting age controversy, the challenges the party has faced in getting registered, and the political climate for young politicians in Malaysia.


East Malaysia


GE14

Malaysians Prepare to #PulangMengundi

A mid-week vote for Malaysia’s 14th general election prompted an outcry as critics accused the ruling coalition of trying to impact voter turnout. But Malaysians have stepped up to organise a nation-wide “homegoing”, pooling money and resources to get out the vote.


Politics 101

Undi18: Malaysian Youth Fight to Lower the Voting Age

On this episode of Southeast Asia Dispatches, Deborah Augustin speaks to Lim Wei Jiet, one of the co-founders of the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance, Malaysia’s first youth-driven political party, about their thoughts on this voting age controversy, the challenges the party has faced in getting registered, and the political climate for young politicians in Malaysia.


Democracy 101


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Mothers Fight Sexism in Malaysia’s Citizenship Law

Malaysia’s constitution allows Malaysian fathers—not mothers—to pass their citizenship to children born abroad. Six mothers successfully challenged this discriminatory policy in court, but must continue to take on a recalcitrant government.

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