As the world celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 2018–2019, the region of Southeast Asia highlights two compelling political phenomena: the emergent ‘authoritarian populism’ of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines and the return to the ‘Asian Values’ of Mahathir Mohamad in Malaysia.
A revolution took place in Malaysia on May 9, 2018. It was a silent and peaceful one, amazingly achieved through the ballot box, and is therefore not noticed for what it is. But it is a revolution nevertheless, and the effects of it are moving like a strong undercurrent throughout the nation—cutting down old structures, be these mental ones, social ones or political ones. A sense of jubilation and disorientation now permeates the country, and will do so for a few weeks yet, if not months.