A look back at Malaysia's past elections

With the 14th General Elections upon us, we take a look through video footage and pictures at some of the country's previous 13 general elections.
Malaya's first general election was held in 1955, before our independence. Take a look at how campaigning and voting processes has changed over the years.


1. The Kuala Lumpur Municipal Elections was the second municipal level elections in the country that paved the way for independence in the country.
The election, held on February 16, 1952 witnessed political cooperation between race-based parties. Chinese men in the video were seen speaking and teaching people how to vote in Permating Tinggi, Malaya.


2. This was Malaya's first elected assembly where several Malay and English officials were addressing the assembly. This includes High Commissioner of Malaya Sir Donald MacGillivray and Secretary of State to the (British) colonies Mr. Lennox Boyd


3. The nation's first general election song calling for voters to vote in Tanah Melayu's first polls in July 27, 1955.
A classic dangdut song with a man wearing a songkok and baju melayu describing the whole election process in the lyrics of the song.





A large crowd of women elbowing their way to vote at a polling station in Mersing, Johor during the first general election in Malaya in 1955. The Alliance Party (Parti Perikatan), a coalition of three communal based parties - Umno representing the Malays; MCA representing the Chinese and MIC representing the Indian community - won 51 parliamentary seats out of 52, and became a dominant political force.
Credit: Arkib Negara Malaysia

An Information Department Poster for the 1955 general election. The picture is scanned from the book "50 Tahun Demokrasi Dan Pilihan Raya Di Malaysia"
Credit: Election Commission

Tunku Abdul Rahman a rally during the campaign period leading up to the first federal election in 1955.
Credit: The Star



Tunku campaigning in the first parliamentary general elections in 1959 under the Alliance Party, or Parti Perikatan.
Credit: Arkib Negara


An Alliance Party campaign poster for the 1959 general elections denoting the kapal layar or sailboat, the symbol of the Alliance.
Credit: The Star


1. The nation's first general election after independence in 1959, in which a total of seven parties contested in the general election. The parties campaigned by having posters put up on trishaws, on an umbrella, the walls, and even tree trunks.
Election results then were known through phone calls made to the Election Commission's headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. Subsequently, the results were given to newspapers and radio stations to be disseminated to the public.


2. Elections in Sarawak in 1963 where voters waited outside school buildings before they were allowed to go in to vote. Inside the poling station, identification documents of the voters are checked before they are allowed to vote. Posters in front of the voting centers read: "Remember the vote is secret".





An election worker announcing the results of the election in Alor Star, Kedah, in the 1964 general election.
Credit: Election Commission.

A voter casting her ballot in the 1964 general election.
Credit: Election Commission.

Voters queing to cast their ballots in the 1964 general election.
Credit: Election Commission


Tunku Abdul Rahman arriving in Alor Janggus in Kedah delivering his victory speech after the Allliance’s win.
Credit: Arkib Negara Malaysia



Counting of ballot papers in the old Rumah Dayak in Kuching during the first general polls in Sarawak in 1969.
Credit: Sarawak Information Department


A woman going to cast her vote in a school hall in Sejingkat for the Santubong seat in the first general polls in Sarawak in 1969.
Credit: Sarawak Information Department


1. Election day scenes on August 25, 1974 in Kuala Lumpur.
Election officers check the identities of voters before allowing them to cast their vote. Caution is placed outside the schools reminding parties not to campaign near the area.


2. The third prime minister of Malaysia Tun Hussien Onn was one of the early voters in Kuala Lumpur arriving in a school on July 8, 1978 to cast his vote. There were scenes of election day activities, where posters featuring DAP's logo, the rocket, prominently displayed together with Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye's profile picture.





Barisan Nasional chairman Tun Abdul Razak being lobbied by MCA president Datuk Lee San Choon (left) and PPP president Datuk S.P. Seenevasagam prior to the 1974 general election when Barisan Nasional faced the people for the first time. In 1969, it was the Alliance.
Credit: The Star


1. The most recognised general election song in the country with a catchy repetitive chorus "Marilah mari, pergi mengundi (come come, let's vote)".
The song released by the Jabatan Penerbitan Negara is an upbeat pop tune with a powerful message urging voters to go out and perform their civic duty.





Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad holding the 1982 Barisan Nasional Manifesto. Date: 16.4.1982
Credit: Bernama


Two children studying the Barisan Nasional posters while enjoying ice cream. Date: 11.4.1982
Credit: Bernama


Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir being paraded by BN supporters after arriving at Kampung Kerinci to attend a ceramah. On his right are Senator Abdul Razak Abu Samah and Mr Tan Koon Swan. Date: 10.4.1982
Credit: The Star


A relaxed and confident Dr Mahathir on nomination day for the 1982 general election in Alor Setar, his first as leader of the ruling Barisan Nasional. Date: 7.4.1982
Credit: The Star



Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir (extreme left), MCA president Tan Koon Swan, deputy Health Minister Datuk K. Pathmanaban and Gerakan Youth chief Dr Koh Tsu Koon, on top a van, waving at residents who lined up the streets to greet them. They were led by 500 Barisan Nasional members on motorcycles. Date: 08.03.1986
Credit: The Star


1. Kelantan, a hotly contested state between Barisan National and PAS during the general election on April 24 and 25, 1995. PAS' late spiritual leader Datuk Seri Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat gives a ceramah to constituents in the state calling for their support in the party. Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad criticises Nik Abdul Aziz for using the teachings of Islam for his own political purpose.


2. The good times of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim when they won the general election together in April 26, 1995. Both their spouses were standing on a stage to celebrate their victory. Opposition DAP leader Lim Kit Siang is also seen going to the ground campaigning for his party.


3. Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announces Barisan National's general election victory in November 29, 1999 to cheering members of the party.
Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail who stood in her imprisoned husband Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's seat in Pematang Pauh also secured her win for a place in parliament.





Barisan posters strung up along busy Jalan Bangsar. Date : 06/10/1990
Credit: The Star


The large crowd of Barisan Nasional supporters at the Kuala Muda District Council compound. Date: 12.03.1990
Credit: The Star


Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad flanked by other Barisan Nasional leaders at a press conference after a meeting of Barisan leaders to discuss preparations for the general election. Date: 12.04.1990
Credit: The Star


Education Minister Anwar Ibrahim (centre) arriving at the Yayasan Aman nomination centre in Penanti with about 5,000 supporters. Also arriving with him are Barisan Nasional candidates for Penanti, Permatang Pasir and Seberang Jaya state seats. Date: 11.10.1990
Credit: The Star


The quiet village of Guar Jering in Penanti, Penang is enlivened by the competitive display of posters and banners from Barisan Nasional and PAS.
Credit: The Star

An emotional Kit Siang being hugged by a supporter after his stunning loss in Tanjung in the 1995 election.
Credit: The Star

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his wife Datin Seri Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali cheering for Barisan's victory at the Putra World Trade Centre. Sharing the moment is Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud. Date: 25.04.1995
Credit: The Star


Undilah Calon Barisan Nasional (Vote Barisan Nasional Candidate) posters rolling off the printing facility at Exotic Printer in Solok Sungai Pinang following the dissolution of Parliament yesterday to pave way for the general election.
Credit: The Star


1. A festive atmosphere at the Bachok parliamentary seat during Nomination Day. The seat was a straight fight between Barisan Nasional's Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin and PAS deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa.


2. Maimun Yusuf, and independent candidate at the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat was known as possibly the country's oldest election candidate.
Maimun went around campaigning on a bicycle pledging to build more schools and offices.


3. Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi launched the Barisan Nasional manifesto during the 12th general election. The party called its manifesto realistic and responsible.


4. DAP's Lim Guan Eng was sworn in as the forth chief minister of the state when Gerakan, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon's party was wiped out in the 2008 election.



1. Election day in Gelang Patah where the fight was between Barisan's Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman and DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang.
Abdul Ghani had expressed his confidence that the Johor way of moderation will convince the voters to vote for Barisan.


2. Perak parliamentary and state candidates from both sides of the political divide were seen going all out to campaign before polling day by meeting voters in supermarkets and by conducting house to house visits.


3. Overseas voters in China cast their votes at the Malaysian embassy in Beijing, and at consulate offices in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Kunming, and Hong Kong.


4. Pekan parliamentary candidate Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak together with his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor cast their votes at the Sekolah Sains Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah.

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