News / Asia

Landmark Election Could Bring Big Change to Malaysia

Landmark Election Could Bring Big Change to Malaysiai
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April 29, 2013
Malaysia has been a model of political stability over the decades, with the same alliance of parties ruling the country since 1957. But as Malaysians prepare to head to the polls on May 5th, many observers believe that could all change -- with an unlikely alliance comprising secular and religious parties mounting a strong challenge for power. Rian Maelzer reports from Kuala Lumpur.
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Rian Maelzer
— Malaysia has been a model of political stability over the decades, with the same alliance of parties ruling the country since 1957.  But as Malaysians prepare to head to the polls on May 5, many observers believe that could all change -- with an unlikely alliance comprising of  secular and religious parties mounting a strong challenge for power.
 
It is shaping up to be the closest election in Malaysia’s history.  The campaign is pitting the National Front, headed by Prime Minister Najib Razak, against the opposition People’s Pact, led by former deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
 
The ruling National Front is a long-established alliance, made up of ethnic Malay, Chinese and Indian political parties.  The opposition is a more recent, looser and diverse alliance.  It includes an Islamist party that wants to impose Shariah law, and a mostly-Chinese left-of-center party that staunchly opposes that goal.
 
“It’s a landmark election here in Malaysia, because never in this country’s history have we had the opposition being this strong, this poised, and this prepared to take power in the over 50 years since the country gained independence,” noted political analyst Ibrahim Suffian.

Prime Minister Najib pointed to the country’s strong economic growth, and the numerous economic and political reforms he has enacted in his four years in office.  His coalition warned that Malaysia’s future prosperity and stability are at stake if the opposition were to win.
 
Norraesah Mohamad of the ruling party UMNO, said the opposition coalition is too fractured to govern effectively.
 
“They have very very different ideologies, the three of them.  It is really they are getting together as a marriage of convenience," he remarked.  "Each one of them are rowing boats in different directions.  They do, you know, as we have a saying here, they share the same pillow but they dream differently.”

The opposition may never have ruled the country, but it has governed in five states.  Its leaders say they have demonstrated the type of transparent and efficient governance they would practice nationally if they win.
 
Despite concerns about clashing ideologies, Ong Kian Ming of the Opposition Democratic Action Party, said there is far more that unites his alliance than divides it.

“There are a lot of common points and policies that we do agree with very strongly," he explained. "For example we stand very strongly against the very rampant corruption that has been a scourge to the Malaysian political system for the longest time, since independence.  And we also stand very much for the protection of human rights.”

In the 2008 election, the opposition alliance shocked the ruling National Front by winning power in the country’s two most-developed states.  This time Anwar and the People’s Pact will hope to go one better and win power nationally.

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Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
April 30, 2013 5:10 AM
I did not know that Malasya is also a multiracial nation comprising of Malay, Chinese and Indisns. In addtion, It includes Islamists. I hope the upcoming election would be completed fairly to make progress in prosperity of Malaysia. Malaysia is one of the most popular countries for retired Japanese to spend remaining years in peace and quiet.


by: Lionel from: Malaysia
April 29, 2013 10:23 AM
GE13 Malaysia in closest elections fight in the history of Malaysia. The opposition did not rule the country till now, but they have governed four states. They have demonstrated transparent governance and systematic approach for development. The opposition, under Anwar leadership, is ahead in this tough fight. I hope Anwar wins this time and make Malaysia a better nation.


by: khan'z from: Malaysia
April 29, 2013 10:21 AM
Yes, This is the strongest opposition ever .....In the 2008 election, the opposition alliance shocked the ruling National Front by winning power in the country’s two most-developed states. This time Anwar and the People’s Pact will hope to go one better and win power nationally.

Anwar Ibrahim is our next PM :) :-)


by: Abdullah636 from: Ipoh
April 29, 2013 10:13 AM
On one side we have BN and other side we have PKR. again these parties are coalitions of different parties. PKR has a islamist party that is ready to impose the shariah law which is unliked by the chinese minority. On the other hand we have a party BN that is corrupt, racist (hating the chinese minority, also the indians). Decision is in our hands but remember a change is required, a new reformasi is essential or the country is going into wrong hands again if BN is elected.

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