Special Reports

The ‘Anything but PAS’ Movement

COLUMN | With all-important state polls on the horizon, political analyst Bridget Welsh looks at the rise of PAS, evolving opposition towards the Islamist party, and what this could mean for national politics.

Image: Midjourney

Rise of Neo-Malay Ethnonationalism

Forces appear to be using proclamations on race and religion to dial the tension up to 11 and destabilise, divide and shape the country. But to what end? Political analyst Dr Bridget Welsh writes.

Malaysia Baharu: Five Years On

The historic May 9, 2018, election saw the fall of BN, which had ruled for over 6 decades. Yet, “New Malaysia” turned out to be far different than many imagined. Dr Bridget Welsh reflects on Malaysia’s journey over the last 5 years.

Scene from the movie Pulau

The Horror Story behind Malaysian Film Censorship

Controversial from almost the second its trailer was released, Pulau, released in cinemas on March 9, is still being debated In fact, the arguments on censorship and moral policing have gotten even louder.

PMX at 100 Days: Anwar Out of the Gate

PMX at 100 Days: Anwar Out of the Gate

3-plus months is perhaps not enough time to gauge the performance of his government. Yet, the Anwar administration has hit some positive, negative and iffy notes. Dr Bridget Welsh analyses Anwar Ibrahim’s 1st 100 days as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister.

Slash and Burn: A look at Anwar’s trimming of MP funds

Putrajaya’s sudden news that it’ll be snipping off a huge chunk of funds meant for use in MPs’ constituencies, to save money, shocked many. Political analyst Dr Bridget Welsh considers if this could end up costing us in other ways.

A Testing Year: Where to Malaysia in 2023?

It’s 2023. So what comes next for the new coalition government under Anwar Ibrahim, which has already inherited a bruised economy, scheming enemies and disillusioned voters? Political analyst Dr Bridget Welsh writes.

Democracy Protected: Is there unity in disunity?

Malaysia’s moving forward with its own brand of “unity government”. Noted political analyst Dr Bridget Welsh looks at whether all forces can find common ground for the common good, or remain as divided as water and oil.

GE15: Democracy Unexpected

It’s been a week since the mother of all polls and Malaysia has a new prime minister. But questions remain over the polarising election results. Noted political analyst Dr Bridget Welsh looks at Perikatan Nasional’s rise, Umno’s defeat, PH’s performance, and what it all means for Malaysian politics.

The Eternal Mystery of the Pan-Borneo Highway

Few things are more mystifying to the people of Sabah and Sarawak than the Pan-Borneo Highway, a promise like a mirage of sorts that only seems to materialise around election time. Natasha Joibi takes a long bus ride down a stretch of the highway and finds more questions than answers.

Kingmakers: Will Sabah and Sarawak decide the polls?

Sabah and Sarawak once more hold the key to the various sides’ chances of victory in the coming polls. But what exactly do they want for themselves? Political analyst Professor James Ctakes a look at the sitch in the East.

By Hook or by Crook? Umno’s Early GE15 Miscalculations

After months of Umno applying pressure, Malaysia’s PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob finally dissolves Parliament. But is triggering snap polls really the power move Umno thinks it is? Perhaps not, argues political analyst Dr Bridget Welsh.

A Leader Less Umno

While many celebrate the jailing of Najib Razak, not everyone’s happy. Political analyst Dr Bridget Welsh looks at how Umno continues to support its convicted former leader and how the court decision affects internal power struggles.

Against the Odds: Malaysia’s Stronger Parliament

Amid upheaval and uncertainty, political analyst Dr Bridget Welsh argues that Malaysia’s Parliament has notched a number of important firsts. But can this period of democratic maturity last, and for how long?

The Heat is On for Umno

Malaysia’s political landscape, always interesting, sizzles even more. Power struggles and cracks within Umno’s leadership spilleth over as the opposition bickers and national election fever mounts.Dr Bridget Welsh examines the Umno heatwave that’s affecting the nation.

Left Behind: An Uneven Economic Recovery

Malaysia’s borders have reopened and the economy is apparently back on track. But it appears that not every sector of society is recovering at the same rate. DR BRIDGET WELSH untangles recent studies by local experts and the World Bank, and shines the light on those being left behind.

PKR Polls 2022: Not All About Anwar

The PKR leadership elections is finally over and while not yet official, results indicate the party’s ready for a reformasi of its own. Dr Bridget Welsh zeroes in on what the polls results mean, especially for party president Anwar Ibrahim and his loosening hold on power.

Pendapat | Rakyat Malaysia, pedulikah kita (untuk mengundi)?

Peguam terkemuka dan aktivis Ambiga Sreenevasan berpandangan Malaysia kini dalam bahaya. Dalam ulasan eksklusif ini, beliau menyentuh soal kegagalan institusi, rasuah dan penyalahgunaan kuasa, serta rasa bimbangnya bahawa masa semakin suntuk untuk sebuah perubahan.

Opinion| Malaysians, do we care?

Prominent lawyer and activist Ambiga Sreenevasan feels Malaysia’s in trouble. In this exclusive piece, she addresses institutional failures, graft and abuse of power, and fears time is running out for change.

1MDB Justice Plods On

Another person’s been convicted for tryna perform some hocus pocus on hundreds of millions of 1MDB dollars to make em disappear. But it’s been years since news of 1MDB was blown wide open and many people have since tuned out the hard-to-follow stream of reports. Dr Bridget Welsh breaks down the various faces and cases, and the slow pace of justice in this global scandal.

The Malaysian smackdown on ‘The Slap’

Since actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock at this year’s Oscars, it seems it’s all we can talk about. Between The Lines explores some of the deeper conversations Malaysians are having about that Oscars slap.

Back to the Future after Johor Polls

The Johor polls is finally done and dusted, and let’s just say the state was painted a BN blue last night. Dr Bridget Welsh breaks down what this means for Malaysia going forward.

GPS wins 2021 Sarawak State Elections

Sarawak’s Hornbills Sing

GPS has won the 2021 Sarawak state elections by a huge margin. What does that mean for the country’s political landscape?

Sarawak State Assembly

Sarawak polls: Is it GPS’ race to lose?

This is the home stretch. With under a week to go to the 12th Sarawak elections, analyst JAMES CHIN runs us through the main highlights and strategies in play as candidates navigate the pandemic SOPs and pressure from the peninsula. We are mid-way through the Sarawak state polls. On the surface, it looks just like a regular election. The main urban towns are full of billboards and flags (in fact, in terms of the “flag war”, I can declare that the outright winner is Parti Sarawak Bersatu or PSB), and every day the press covers news of the ongoing election

Covid-19 and poverty inequality

Poverty inequality and COVID-19

In the history of modern Malaysia, there’s never been a socioeconomic crisis quite like today’s. The pandemic has hit hard and social safety nets have been grossly inadequate. But the struggle for survival among low-income families is not new: Covid-19 simply deepened the income inequality divide.

Malacca elections: How Anwar and the Pakatan Harapan legend crumbled

How The Pakatan Harapan legend crumbled in Malacca

No country’s been spared the ravages of Covid-19. But in Malaysia, the pandemic has coincided with political turmoil and arguably the greatest period of instability in the nation’s history. Political analyst Bridget Welsh explores these issues – and more importantly, what can be done to fix them.

The Timah Whiskey Issue

Timah Timah Tang Tu

What’s in a name? As the insanity of the past few couple of weeks over local whiskey brand Timah has shown, in the wrong hands that can be a very loaded question indeed. In case you’re lost worse than one navigating KL traffic without Waze, Timah is a proudly non-Scottish, Malaysia-made, award-winning, double-peated (which refers to its extra smoky flavour) whisky. Try saying that 10x fast! But while most countries would notch this on their wall of things to brag about and/or list it in tourism brochures, several folks who, to borrow a quote, must’ve slept late the mornin’ they

Mitra, MIC and the short-changed Indian community

Mitra and mystery of the ‘missing’ funds

RM9 million. To some *coughZahid *coughJibby* this isn’t a lot of dosh. But 9 million ringgit can go a long way to helping entire swathes of our Malaysian community, such as those in the lowest-income B40 households who are among the hardest hit economically during this blighted Covid-19 pandemic. Hence the question being asked by the opposition: how did RM9.1 million from Mitra — the Malaysia Indian Transformation Unit set up to aid the Indian Malaysian poor — end up being channelled to a research arm under a political party, the MIC? Have you signed up to our awesome daily

Pandora Papers and Malaysian Ministers

Those legit, sneaky Pandora Papers

“Que será será“.  No, no, he didn’t break out into song. But these were the words of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim yesterday when commenting on his (once again!) fast-disappearing prime minister dream yesterday. And according to the I-might-never-become-PM Anwar, part of the reason he might miss out on his forever quest to be Malaysia’s top dawg is cos he does crazy stuff like repeatedly bringing up the Pandora Papers to Parliament to be debated in the open. (Spoiler alert! His motion was denied.) It’s moves like those that make you mighty unpopular among the “whole power apparatus, political elites, conglomerates

The problems with Malaysia's education system

Are we ready for back-to-school

BTL speaks with Cheryl Ann Fernando, the CEO of PEMIMPIN GSL — a non-profit dedicated to training and improving school leadership — on kids’ return to school, what’s ailing our education system, and what can be done to fix it.

Unjustifiable government spending as rakyat suffer in poverty

Million ringgit excuse of a lifetime

Remember all those various movement control orders over the past 2 years? That stressful, fearful time when we were ALL mandated to plonk our tushies at home like responsible citizens and do our part to keep the blasted Covid-19 coronavirus at bay? Now we’re quite sure that the WFH ruling also covered the wonderful women and men in the civil service. And we’re doubly sure ‘civil servants’ included the slightly less wonderful Cabinet folks in Putrajaya. Now hark back to that time a few months back when then PM8, now National Recovery Council head honcho Muhyiddin Yassin pitifully bleated that

MA63 and the future of Sabah and Sarawak

Quo Vadis, Sabah And Sarawak?

The MA63 and autonomy from Peninsular Malaysia have always been hot-button issues for Sabah and Sarawak. But why haven’t they been resolved after all these years? Analyst JAMES CHIN explains the factors responsible for keeping them off the top of the national agenda. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Of late, Sarawakians and Sabahans have been increasingly asking difficult questions that Putrajaya may not have the answers to.  These relate to the position of Sabah and Sarawak in the federation, and the current state of federal-East Malaysia relations. Let me start with the first obvious one — the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).  Most Malayans have

Covid-19 and the Langkawi travel bubble

Bursting our (travel) bubble

Langkawi — the parliamentary constituency of PM4/7/d̶i̶c̶t̶a̶t̶o̶r̶-̶f̶o̶r̶-̶l̶i̶f̶e̶  Dr Mahathir Mohamad and home of duty-free erm, chocolates — is open for business. To be honest, we don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. After close to 2 years of going in and out of lockdowns due to seesawing Covid-19 infection rates and scary new variants emerging faster than Malaysia can change prime ministers, the idea of resuming travel, and facing full flights and a sea of strangers can be daunting. After all, while some 94% of Langkawi folks may be double-jabbed, we’re just past the halfway point nationwide; only

Happy Malaysia Day!

“The road to nationhood has not been an easy journey. Surprises and disappointments, tension and crisis, have marred the way. The peoples of Malaysia, however, have endured all trials and tribulations with confidence and patience, calmness and forbearance, with faith in our final goal — Malaysia.” — Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Malaysia Day Speech, Sept 16, 1963 Hi folks! We hope you’re having a love-filled, fun and most importantly, safe Malaysia Day. We’ve teamed up with the cutest spud-loving art power duo The Potato Couple to bring you this Malaysia Day special! We want to honour the dedicated and

Malaysia’s Ivermectin threat: How we got here

Malaysia’s Ivermectin threat: How we got here

Ahead of the results of a clinical trial on the effectiveness of controversial drug Ivermectin to treat Covid-19, Between The Lines traces the growing lobby for what is essentially a veterinary drug for human use and the issues that contributed towards the fervour behind it. ZURAIRI A.R. investigates.

Citizenship law: Justice for mums

Justice For Malaysian Mothers Means Justice For All

Hi folks Today, we’re doing things differently. There’ll be no long, sarky political commentary. No breakdown of any gomen shenanigans. And no takedown of any dumbassery of any kind. In ARTiculations today, we cover Thursday’s historic Kuala Lumpur High Court ruling in favour of Malaysian moms fighting that sexist, unfair citizenship law preventing them from automatically conferring citizenship to kids born abroad, the same way Malaysian dads can. This is HUGE! We can go on and on, but so much has already been written about this issue (heck! Even we’ve written about it!) and the monumental ruling. And honestly, nothing

The KLNFR degazettement debacle

If A Tree Falls In The Forest…

Months after public hearings ended, nearly a year after indigenous communities thought they’d been seen, environment groups that they’d been heard, and long after politicians of every stripe overwhelmingly voted N-O, the Selangor state government decided to flip everybody the bird and sign off a chunk of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR) to a private developer. This cunning plan, a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel, was hatched back in May, at a time when most folks were fretting over rising Covid-19 cases and Selangor was being placed under

Deaths in Custody and the IPCMC

Why Are Police Detainees Dying In Custody?

In 2013, 31-year-old father-of-one N Dharmendran had both his ears stapled by cops as he was tortured for information during his detention at the KL police headquarters.

But it wasn’t the stapling of his ears what killed him. It was the beating that came after.

Sadly, Dharmendran wasn’t the 1st custodial death in Malaysia – and it won’t be last.

It was just one of the few that’s come to public knowledge, like the 13 deaths reported this year alone.

Ismail Sabri Yaakob and his recycled cabinet

Recycle, That’s What We Do

“Have you ever tried to build something new out of things you found around your home? That’s what we try to do when we develop a new product.” Perhaps when assembling his cabinet, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob took inspiration from the zero waste mantra of one of the most renowned cabinetmakers in the biz — Ikea.  After all, how else do you explain Izzy choosing to root around the Putrajaya ‘home’, find relics of the Cabinet of his ousted predecessor Muhyiddin Yassin, and use them for his own? The only problem is that, unlike Ikea’s furniture, our new re-assembled

Why Muhyiddin Failed: Lessons From A Fallen Prime Minister

Muhyiddin’s Legacy: Lessons From A Fallen Administration

Malaysia’s eighth prime minister has already described himself as merely a ‘footnote’ in history. With the nation’s shortest prime ministerial tenure of only 532 days, Muhyiddin Yassin’s seventeen months in office will be remembered chiefly for the Covid-19 pandemic, arguably one of Malaysia’s most traumatic experiences.  Officially, nearly 14,000 people lost their lives and over 1.5 million tested positive for Covid during Muhyiddin’s tenure. And while the catalyst for his downfall was UMNO defections from his coalition, he left office after facing public pressure over his government’s mishandling of the pandemic as his popularity rating dropped lower than any prime 

Ismail Sabri Yaakob is PM9

Lady Luck swipes right on Izzy

After over a year of listening to politicos plot and scheme, and wheel and deal, we’ve finally got a new prime minister. Only it’s far from the match made in heaven Malaysia was hoping for.  But, with 114 MPs bending the knee to the PM-designate, the Agong’s made his choice. And, pending any last-minute m̶i̶r̶a̶c̶l̶e̶ twist, by 2.30pm today, it’ll be official — Ismail “Izzy” Sabri, son of Yaakob, will be Malaysia’s 9th prime minister.  He’ll be Malaysia’s 3rd prime minister, leading its 3rd government in just over 3 years! Less than a month ago, BRIDGET WELSH wrote about how

Muhyiddin has lost the majority

Putrajaya 2021: Welcome to the Games

Facing the TV cameras, and with his trusty ministerial manel gathered around him like the palace eunuchs of yore, Malaysia’s primo supremo Muhyiddin Mahiaddin Yassin admitted he’d lost majority Parliament support. But yet, instead of doing the expected (and proper!) thing and announcing his resignation (contrition – or, better still, some groveling – over his disaster of a premiership would’ve helped too), the prime minister, with a straight face only a politician could pull in such circumstances and a blissful unawareness of irony, expressed sadness at the endless political storm assailing the country, even as thousands are falling sick and

A Return For Umno?

A Return for Umno?

Amidst all the debate about the rights and wrongs of last week’s war of words between the Palace and Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration, one thing is flying under the radar: the role of Malaysia’s largest and oldest party, Umno, in the entire affair. Political analyst BRIDGET WELSH examines how Umno stands to gain from the ongoing tumult. It’s been an eventful week for Malaysian politics.  The battle for democracy has opened up on many fronts – in a constitutional crisis where there are disagreements about the power to different actors to revoke the emergency; in a legitimacy crisis where

The Problems Of Malaysia’s Youth

We often hear the phrase “the problem with youths today…”, followed by a laundry list of all the things wrong with em. But how often do we hear “the problems facing youths today…” instead?

A Way Forward For Malaysia

No country’s been spared the ravages of Covid-19. But in Malaysia, the pandemic has coincided with political turmoil and arguably the greatest period of instability in the nation’s history. Political analyst Bridget Welsh explores these issues – and more importantly, what can be done to fix them.

Feasting in a famine

Feasting In A Famine

As legend has it, Nero fiddled while Rome burned. 2,000 years later, our politicians feast while Malaysia’s aflame. Are we being hyperbolic? Exaggerating? Let’s look at the week that was. Highly, extremely frustrated Malaysians have been calling for a different approach to the long, drawn-out lockdown which has been no closer to getting the Covid-19 problem in hand. It’s time to change tack, many said. Naturally, PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s f̶a̶i̶l̶e̶d̶ gomen kicked off the week by instead doubling down and telling us peasants the lockdown’s here to stay — or at least until Covid cases dip below 4,000 new Covid cases a day. Moo also unveiled

Satire is not a crime

Satire Is NOT A Crime

Sorry folks. There’s no new Fahmi Reza art to see here today. We had intended to talk about PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s latest approval ratings (it’s “stable” at 67% BT-Dubs, despite most respondents thinking Malaysia’s heading in the wrong direction). But that’s become a story for another day. In case you haven’t been clued in yet, Fahmi seems to have rankled some royal nerves and, because of that, has been arrested. The charge? Why, the old favourite, of course — sedition! He was “picked up” at his home last night before being checked in for his one night stay at the Dang Wangi r̶e̶s̶o̶r̶t̶ police station. At the time of writing this (9am), he’s

Different Class: The Marginalisation Of Indians In Malaysia

The indentured labour system, which replaced slavery in British colonies, kept millions of Indians in servitude, misery, poverty and disease. Today, its legacy is not just a global Indian diaspora but, for Indians in Malaysia, ongoing misfortunes. Mangai Balasegaram investigates.

A thousand-odd Covidiots fail to get retested

The Health Ministry’s pissed at a whole bunch of people under home quarantine who’ve yet to get retested. But even a blind man could’ve seen this problem coming from a mile away.

In other news, Shafie Apdal isn’t sure he wants to be PM; floods wreak havoc in Sabah; early voters head to the polls in Chini, and yet another person’s been arrested over the murder of a “Datuk Seri”.

Coming Of Age In Exile

In this article, we examine the lives of Rohingya refugees in Malaysia and explore how they rebuild their shattered hopes and dreams.

A Land Without Time

In this heartrending essay, we look into the fates of the Batek, a tribe of indigenous people whose lives and lifestyles are being obliterated by the relentless march of time and “progress”.

Here’s How Much The Haze Costs Us

By Dr Helena Varkkey While the dark and dreary days of September may be fading from our memories, the intermittent moderately hazy conditions this month continue to remind us the problem is far from over. Against this backdrop, many expected Budget 2020 to include significant allocations for haze mitigation. And indeed, transboundary haze was one of two environmental issues (the other being the chemical incident in Sungai Kim Kim) given special attention by the Budget, with the Environment and Chemistry departments handed a total of RM30 million to tackle the problems. It’s still unclear what chunk of the RM30 million

No Smoke Without Fire: The Politics of Haze in Southeast Asia

After three years of relatively clear skies, the haze reappeared in Malaysia in 2019. One of the worst hit areas this year was Sri Aman in Sarawak, which recorded its highest Air Pollution Index (API) at 369 –well into the “hazardous” range. While an early monsoon transition brings welcome respite to most areas of Malaysia, fires rage on in neighbouring Indonesia, turning the skies blood red. Haze is generally linked to Indonesian forest fires, and to a lesser extent in Malaysia as well. Such fires occur in the dry season on almost a yearly basis. For most years, the haze is confined locally and it