News / Asia

Deep Divisions Surface After Landmark Malaysian Elections

Deep Divisions Surface After Landmark Malaysian Electionsi
X
May 09, 2013 6:55 PM
After this week's closest election in Malaysia’s history, the ruling National Front returned to power with a majority in parliament. The opposition alliance, however, won more than half the votes. The result has left a divided country, with the opposition alleging electoral fraud, and many in the ruling coalition are blaming the ethnic Chinese majority for their poor performance. Rian Maelzer reports for VOA from Kuala Lumpur.
Rian Maelzer
After this week's closest election in Malaysia’s history, the ruling National Front returned to power with a majority in parliament. The opposition alliance, however, won more than half the votes. The result has left a divided country, with the opposition alleging electoral fraud, and many in the ruling coalition are blaming the ethnic Chinese minority for their poor performance.

Tens of thousands of supporters of the opposition People’s Alliance packed into a stadium Wednesday night in Kuala Lumpur, not to celebrate their best-ever election performance. They were there to protest against what they say is the fraud that robbed them of victory.

Analysts say electoral districts heavily favored the ruling coalition, with many seats for smaller populations in rural areas that are the National Front’s strongholds. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim goes further, accusing the election commission of siding with the ruling coalition.

"Yeah, we have seen the ground swell and they have been translated into the elections only to be stolen by the ruling clique. But now I think what we need to do is to explain and let the people take up from there - what do they want? They want to surrender to the corrupt regime or they want to claim what is rightfully theirs?" asked Ibrahim.

Defending the elections

The National Front maintains that the elections were free and fair.

The opposition People’s Alliance succeeded in cutting the ruling coalition’s majority in parliament; it won many more seats in state legislatures; it tightened its grip on Malaysia’s two most-developed states, which it has ruled for five years.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said the results were caused by a huge swing of support toward the opposition from the ethnic Chinese community that makes up about a quarter of the population.

Political analysts, such as Keith Leong, say other, more decisive factors were at play.

“It’s more of a geographic and a class issue. The fact is that the opposition was also able to make gains in largely urban Malay areas and so it is actually more of an urban-rural divide. The opposition’s message was able to resonate more with the urban dwellers, especially with the young voters,” said Leong.

Playing blame game

Still, many leading figures in the ruling coalition blame the Chinese community for their poor showing and a Malay-language newspaper linked to the ruling party caused outrage with a headline asking “What more do the Chinese want?”

The leader of the ruling party’s youth wing, Khairy Jamaluddi, said such attitudes hurt his coalition in the election.

“We have to rein in the more extremist elements within our own party, within our own media establishment and we must speak against it. If leaders abdicate this responsibility then this nation is going to be further divided. This is a time for us to step up and speak and act on that message of inclusively and moderation,” said Jamaluddi.

Prime Minister Najib said he also is worried about polarization and will seek national reconciliation. But Wednesday night’s huge rally rejecting the legitimacy of the election results indicates just how tough a task that will be.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid