Malaysia is not generally known for its technological or political revolutions, but after a year that has seen a brand new cryptocurrency succeed in its aims of helping end a corruption-ridden 60-year political domination, it could be said to have achieved just that. Following the victory, both the creators of Harapan Coin and members of the new government, some of whom secretly helped finance the coin, are unsure of how to best use this new tool.
Anonymous Contributions to Political Opposition
Harapan Coin was launched in January 2018, four months before the Malaysian general election, by a group of “patriotic and concerned Malaysian citizens”. This followed over two years’ worth of reports backed up by data leaks of a massive corruption scandal within the Barisan Nasional party, including the Prime Minister himself. Harapan Coin was launched as a way for those who wanted to contribute to the opposition party, Pakatan Haraban, without their contributions being traced by government officials, offering a glimpse into the potential of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in eliciting social change.
From Political Upstart to National Currency?
In May 2018, the election saw a victory for Pakatan Haparan, which also saw the ascension to power of many of those who helped finance or otherwise support Harapan Coin. Since the victory, attention has turned to the purpose of the coin going forward, with some wondering if, as seems to have been the vision of the creators, it has the potential to become Malaysia’s official currency. This has worried some, given cryptocurrency’s volatile nature. Harapan Coin now has some serious political backing, including co-founder Khalid Abdul Samad, who has since been installed as Federal Territories minister.
Draped in Hypocrisy
Reports began to surface in November 2018 that the new government was pressing ahead with the concept of using the HRP token as a national currency, with the coin’s origins as a privately operated, anti-government project suddenly worrying many. One of the most vocal critics has been the embattled former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who has, ironically, voiced his concerns about the opportunities for corruption and money laundering that an anonymous cryptocurrency would bring.
Whatever the fate of Harapan Coin, its sudden success and resultant notoriety may well set a blueprint of sorts for what privately created cryptocurrencies can achieve.