Malaysia’s GE-15: Micro and Macro Perspectives


About the Hybrid Seminar

The dust is still settling on Malaysia’s 15th General Election. However, while Anwar Ibrahim has been sworn in as Prime Minister, his cabinet line-up has been named, the budget has been rolled out, and parliament is now in session, many questions remain about how Malaysians voted and what this means.

This seminar will unpack key voting trends and examine their meaning on two levels. First, support for the three major coalitions will be set out and examined. This will be done by analyzing data from polling stations in each parliamentary constituency in Peninsular Malaysia. This will enable detailed examination of patterns by ethnicity and age to be established. This will be complemented by analyzing voting behaviour among key interest groups such as civil servants. This analysis will show more nuance and variation in voting patterns at the local level beyond the larger narrative of the so-called “Green Wave” during GE15.

This will be complemented by an analysis of the election from a more macro perspective. A 2020 study argued that Malaysia can be thought of as comprising four main electoral arenas, each with their own distinct, identity-based polities. This Four Arenas framework provided a simpler and coherent explanation for GE14: voting patterns remained highly consistent in two arenas relative to the previous election, but changed in the decisive third and fourth arenas due largely to party realignments within the contesting coalitions. This presentation applies the Four Arenas framework to GE15 to develop insights into evolving political behaviour in Malaysia, as well as suggest likely implications for the new government’s stability.

About the Speakers

Dr. Ong Kian-Ming is Program Director, Philosophy Politics & Economics (PPE) program at Taylor’s University, Malaysia and Visiting Senior Fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. He is a former two-term Member of Parliament (MP) in Malaysia and was the Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) from July 2018 to February 2020.

Kai Ostwald is Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and Visiting Senior Fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. He is also Director of UBC’s Institute of Asian Research and Associate Editor of Pacific Affairs.


This is a hybrid event which will be held at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS).

Attending the Event In-person at ISEAS

To join the event in-person at ISEAS, please register via the ISEAS mobile app, available on iOS and Android via the Apple or Play store. Search “ISEAS” to find or scan this QR code.

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Seating capacity is limited. Do register early to avoid disappointment.

Attending the Event Virtually via Webinar

To join the event virtually at the specified date and time using your internet devices, please register here to receive your unique login link for the webinar via the zoom platform.

If you have questions for the speakers, please key in your questions via the Q&A, stating your name and affiliation. The moderator will field them to the speaker during the Q&A session.


Mar 23 2023


10:00 am - 11:30 am


ISEAS Seminar Room 2 / Webinar