On May 5, 2013, Malaysia’s ruling coalition, the Barisan Nasional, won a resounding victory in Malaysia’s 13th general election. Few were surprised that it captured a majority of Parliament (133 seats vs. 89 for the opposition Pakatan Rakyat). What was surprising was how disproportionate the BN’s seat share was compared to its popular vote share (60% vs. 47.38%). The opposition alleges not just that gerrymandering has created safe districts for the BN, but also that the BN engaged in vote-rigging and foul play.
Now, the PR has filed a lawsuit against the Elections Commission before the Malaysian High Court. Malaysian judges are not known for their willingness to confront the political elite. Malaysian legal scholar Ratna Rueban Balasubramaniam argues judges ought to view the elections case as an opportunity to enforce the rule of law, not as a improper infringement in political activity.
While the judiciary’s past actions do not hint at judicial activism, this will certainly be the closely watched case in Malaysia for years – at least since the Anwar sodomy trial(s).