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

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs