From Malaysia Factbook
The 1980s was the decade that began on 1 January 1980 and ended on 31 December 1989. This was the 9th decade of the 20th century.
The time period saw great social, economic, and general change, as wealth and production migrated to newly industrializing economies. As economic liberalization increased in the developed world, multiple multinational corporations (MNCs) associated with the manufacturing industry relocated to Malaysia, as well as to Thailand, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, and China.
On 16 July 1981, Mahathir became the Prime Minister of Malaysia when Tun Hussein Onn stepped down, officially due to "health reasons". Leading an administration marred by institutionalized corruption, cronyism, despotism, political repression, and human rights violations, Mahathir nevertheless vindicated himself by engineering the phenomenal growth of the Malaysian economy into one of the largest in Southeast Asia, thanks in no small part to the economic liberalization in the developed world.
- 1982 general elections held on 22 April: The result was a victory for Barisan Nasional, which won 132 of the 145 seats.
- 1983 Malaysian constitutional crisis: Prime Minister Mahathir pushed forward an amendment to Article 66 of the Federal Constitution, which set the time limit for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to veto a law within 30 days. The proposals generated a great deal of controversy between the government and the monarchy, of which the former had to launch a public campaign to pressure the monarchy to assent to the amendments.
- 1986 general elections held on 3 August: The result was a victory for Barisan Nasional, which won 148 of the 177 seats.
- UMNO party elections: The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) held its triennual party elections and for the first time in 12 years, the incumbent President, Dr. Mahathir, was challenged. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah was the candidate of "Team B" for the Presidency, taking on Mahathir, whose camp was labeled "Team A". Shortly after the vote-counting at the UMNO General Assembly was completed, rumors spread that Razaleigh had won. However, the official results declared Mahathir as the winner, with 761 votes to Razaleigh's 718. The Team A candidate for Deputy President, Ghafar Baba, also defeated Musa Hitam of Team B, and 16 of the 25 seats on the UMNO Supreme Council also went to Team A. 12 UMNO members (one of the plaintiffs later withdrew) filed a lawsuit in the High Court, seeking a court order to void the election results and pave the way for a new election.
- Dissolution of UMNO: Justice Harun Hashim declared UMNO as "an unlawful society", thereby rendering the UMNO party elections a nullity. In his decision, Harun blamed Parliament for forcing his hand: "If the old law was in existence... [one could] apply the common law principle, but here it seems the Parliament, to ensure strict compliance with the law, has made this provision look harsh".
- October 12: Jabatan Telekom was incorporated as Syarikat Telekom Malaysia Berhad (STMB).
- October 27 – Operation Lalang: More than 100 opposition activists were arrested, including Lim Kit Siang, under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
- The 1988 Malaysian constitutional crisis that began with the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) party elections in 1987 ended with the suspension and removal of Lord President of the Supreme Court of Malaysia Tun Salleh Abas from his post.