Malaysian Prime Minister dissolves Parliament
The dissolution came after the PM received the King of Malaysia’s consent, a decision viewed as an effort to clear all the criticism of his government and to ensure the people have the power to create a strong sustainable government. While the date of the vote is yet to be announced by the Malaysian Election Commission, it must be within 60 days from the dissolution.
Members of the government and opposition have expressed concern that the election will be difficult due to the arrival of the monsoon season which often brings deadly floods. The Sultan, however, believes there was no other way but to approve the dissolution request to ensure the people can vote and create a good government. The Pejuang Party views the snap election as dangerous due to the floods, encouraging people to reject the UMNO’s calls for an election.
Although the dissolution aims to offer the Malaysian people a chance to choose their government, observers will need to be cautious about potential weather events before realising the shape of Malaysian politics in the future.
Indonesia launches its first homegrown COVID-19 vaccine
In a surprising move, Indonesia officially announced its first domestic COVID-19 vaccine, on 13 October 2022, to reduce its reliance on importing vaccines, paving the way for Indonesia’s vaccine independency.
The vaccine—named IndoVac—is made by Indonesia’s pharmaceutical industry, charged to produce the primary vaccine, booster vaccines, and vaccines for children reporting an 80% efficiency rate after two shots. Importantly, the dose is also fit for consumption by the Muslim population. Indonesia has planned to produce 20 million doses of primary vaccine within 2022 with the aim of at least 40 million doses in 2023 and 120 million doses in 2024.
Indonesia is well placed to assist middle to low-income countries that are currently fighting COVID-19 with the potential to soon export the vaccine to other Global South countries as well. President Widodo has announced Indonesia’s vaccine independence with the development of the IndoVac deemed by some as a new era of Indonesian leadership in fighting and managing the pandemic.
IndoVac will enable Indonesia to have access to easier, safer, and cheaper COVID-19 vaccines which will be an important asset for the country’s future fight against the pandemic.
Thailand’s response to October 6 mass shooting
Following the October 6 mass shooting, resulting in the death of 37 people (including 24 children, the gunman, and his wife and child), the Thai government has announced rapid changes to the country’s weapons and protection systems ahead of the 2023’s general election.
With condolences, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha and the King of Thailand visited the victims’ families with the promise of stricter gun ownership rules and tougher regulations on drug use. Authorities have been instructed to look for illegal drug use in communities and among government officials. They were also tasked with reviewing records of individuals who have misused guns to have their gun licenses revoked. The government is recalling all firearms from officials and police who have exploited their weapons during duty.
The opposition party—the Pheu Thai party—has placed some blame on the Thai government for ignoring the drug problem in Thailand. This will lead to an open session in the Thai House of Representatives. In response, some have called for reform in the Thai Police including regular mental health check-ups for officers. Internationally, the United States and the UN Secretary-General sent their condolences to the families of the victims.
The incident has undoubtedly left a scar on Thailand and will shape the current firearm controls and continued efforts to manage illegal drug regulation.
Mahathir willing to be Malaysian Prime Minister for the third time
Despite serving for two terms for a total of 24 years, former Prime Minister Mahathir has expressed his readiness for high office for the third term, if he’s called to do so after the general election in November 2022.
This can only occur if, as said in late September 2022, the coalition Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) and the Malaysian public request him to do so. He has pledged to serve as long as he’s able to function despite being 97 years old. Mahathir would only serve for a year to get the country on a stable and sustainable track.
Dr Mahathir hopes there is no need for his reappointment as prime minister but he will not turn it down if he was offered. He also believes that the win by the ruling UMNO party could result in the release of the former PM Najib Razak as well. The former political secretary of Anwar Ibrahim—Mahathir’s opposition—welcomed Mahathir’s decision to return reiterating this as a sign of Malaysia’s strong democracy. While many are closely observing his current health condition, and therefore whether or not he is fit to serve in office, Mahathir’s willingness to return for a third term may be an attempt to prevent political opponents from acquiring the office. The Malaysian people will express their decision at polls in the coming month.
Sovinda Po is a Research Assistant at the Griffith Asia Institute.