2009 saw the incumbent Barisan Nasional (BN – National Front) doing its best to destroy the nascent Pakatan Rakyat (PR – Peoples Coalition). The BN demonstrated the depth and breadth of its ability to force and manipulate democratic institutions towards its own ends (read here and here). The individual currently at the heart of BN’s ruthless attempt to undermine PR is none other than Najib Razak (read here), Malaysia’s sixth Premier.

Prior to taking over the Premiership, Najib was credited to have orchestrated the takeover of the state of Perak from opposition control through dubious methods (read here). Upon becoming Prime Minister, he had introduced several reform measures to win back popular support. However, these measures were long on form and short on substance (read here). Nevertheless, his relentless pursuit of PR dominated the headlines in 2009.

Najib continued to hound Opposition Leader, Anwar Ibrahim, mainly through the use of judicial process (e.g. charged with sodomy once again) and trial by media. The main purpose is to discredit Anwar as well as keep him preoccupied with court cases than to build the coalition.

While Najib was doing his best to undermine PR, the biggest casualty which become the biggest news in 2009 was the death of an opposition political aide under the custody of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Agency (MACC) (read here). Teoh Beng Hock who was a witness in a corruption case of opposition lawmakers was found dead under mysterious circumstances outside the MACC building – believed to have been murdered (read here). The MACC appears to the BN’s latest tool against opposition lawmakers (read here). This was all the more obvious as multibillion dollar scandals with documented evidence involving the ruling coalition ( e.g. PKFZ, Khir Toyo – here and here) were ignored while the MACC went on a witch-hunt on the opposition. The Teoh Beng Hock case reveals the extent that the ruling party may go to bring down PR.

Despite the dubious methods employed by BN and Najib to undermine PR, the Rakyat (citizens) continued to remain steadfast to PR. There were eight by-elections in 2009 with BN winning only two of them. The Rakyat’s demand for reforms apparently continues to be demonstrated through the ballot box as Najib has been unable to deliver on substantial reforms.

Rumours currently abound that Najib will call for the next election (Malaysia’s 13th General Election) by mid 2011 (read here). This author will keep NM readers updated throughout 2010 and 2011 in the run-up to the 13th GE – believed to be an election that will change the course of Malaysia.

Meanwhile, highlights of key political issues in 2009 in Malaysia are available at The Nut Graph, The Malaysian Insider, The Malaysian Mirror and The Edge.