1. What do you think will be the most important issue that the new government must address?
I think the new government must put in place more mechanisms and policies to support more women in politics and also on government/corporate boards. This is not to say that this is all that needs to be done or can be done by any incoming government with regards to women. But having more women in power is not only the right thing to do, it will ultimately strengthen a democracy or organisation. The current percentage of women in Parliament – 11% – is still a long way off Malaysia’s commitment of 30% at the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action. Gender equality must be made a priority and not be treated like an optional extra.
2. What do you think is Barisan Nasional’s greatest strength?
Its longevity, and the fact that Barisan Nasional (BN) has overseen an amazing pace of development.
3. What do you think is Barisan Nasional’s greatest weakness?
Its longevity, internal structure, and lack of touch with reality. It would be very hard for Najib Razak to successfully sell himself on a platform similar to Barack Obama’s “change you can believe in”, and an increasing number of Malaysians are turned off the racial and gender components that make up BN. I also do wonder if BN has anyone reliable on the ground. For instance, we saw how shocked they were after their “defeat” in 2008. But have they learnt from that? Sometimes, the signs from them aren’t so good.
4. What do you think is Pakatan Rakyat’s greatest strength?
They are like a breath of fresh air…compared to BN.
5. What do you think is Pakatan Rakyat’s greatest weakness?
Probably the fact that a lot of people still view them as “new” and “untested.” When I was doing fieldwork in 2011, for instance, I was struck by the number of individuals in Kuala Lumpur who had a “better the devil you know” attitude, even though they had a number of problems with BN.
6. What is your hope for Malaysia?
I hope we will see more women at the helm. It’s long overdue, and a vital part of any development
Dahlia Martin is a PhD Candidate at the School of International Studies, Flinders University. Her thesis, titled “Family and the Melayu Baru: motherhood and Malay Muslim identity”, investigates the position of motherhood in Malay nationalism
New Mandala is asking Malaysians and Malaysianists worldwide their views on the two coalitions vying for power at the 13th general election in Malaysia. Their responses are published unedited.