It was seen as a historic turning point – an election that overturned a party which had been in power for more than 60 years.
But less than two years later, the new government is out, and the old ruling party back in power. So why did a coalition whose victory had ignited such hopes for change in Malaysia collapse so quickly?
Malaysia has a new prime minister after a week of unprecedented political turmoil and uncertainty. Muhyiddin Yassin is an unassuming career politician who was ejected from the then-government party Umno in 2016.
He joined forces with political heavyweights Mahathir Mohammad and Anwar Ibrahim to form a multi-party, multi-ethnic coalition called Pakatan Harapan (PH).
Together they rode a wave of public anger over corruption to inflict the first-ever election defeat on the Umno-led coalition Barisan Nasional (BN).
But the events of the past week – in which Mr Muhyiddin brought down the government by defecting with more than 30 MPs, and forming an alliance with his old party – have been a shattering blow to those who saw the 2018 election as a watershed, a new beginning for the country.
“I am sorry for failing you. I tried. I really tried to stop them”, tweeted Syed Saddiq, a telegenic young Malay politician whose stunning victory in a Johor seat in 2018 was seen as emblematic of the hunger for change.
A member of Mr Muhyiddin’s party, Syed Saddiq, is refusing to join him in working with Umno. There have been protests against what is being called a “backdoor government”.
“This is utter betrayal,” said lawyer and activist Fadya Nadwa Fikri. “People didn’t vote for this.”