News / Asia

Malaysian Opposition Cries Foul after Ruling Coalition Keeps Power

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak celebrates after winning the elections at his party headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, early May 6, 2013.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak celebrates after winning the elections at his party headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, early May 6, 2013.
Kate Lamb
After a tightly-fought national election Sunday, Malaysia’s ruling coalition Barisan National has won a mandate to continue its 56-year rule. But opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has refused to accept the results, decrying the poll as fraudulent and rigged.

Counting extended into the early hours of Monday morning as Malaysians eagerly awaited the results of Sunday’s tight election.

The ruling coalition Barisan National, led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, won 133 out of 222 parliament seats, while the opposition garnered 89.  It was the ruling coalition’s poorest electoral performance since independence from Britain in 1957.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has lashed out against the results.

Hours after voting closed, but before the ballots had been tallied, he announced on Twitter that the opposition had won. Under the hashtag ‘ubah’ meaning ‘change’ in Malay, Anwar urged the ruling party and the election commission not to hijack the results.

Malaysian General Elections

-222 parliamentary seats up for grabs
-More than 570 candidates
-13.2 million voters
-Barisan Nasional coalition has been in power since 1957
-Prime Minister Najib Razak leads the UMNO, the dominant party in the BN
-Anwar Ibrahim leads the three-party PR opposition alliance
After it became clear his fractious Pakatan Rakyat opposition had lost, Anwar said the integrity of the vote had been severely comprised.

“I don’t think it is fair to expect me to form a conclusion, or make a decision, based primarily on an election that we consider rather fraudulent.  And, in fact the election commission has failed in its task," he said.

As the country hit the polling booths Sunday, allegations of electoral fraud were rife. The opposition claims the government flew in 40,000 foreigners from neighboring countries, granting them illegal identity cards so they could bolster the tally for the ruling party.

Stories of Bangladeshi workers bussed into polling booths have been heavily circulated on independent news websites and Twitter.

Malaysia election, 2013Malaysia election, 2013
x
Malaysia election, 2013
Malaysia election, 2013
There was also criticism of the use of indelible ink, introduced this year to prevent double voting, but many voters claimed it was easily washed off.

Anwar has criticized the national electoral commission for failing to investigate, while Bersih, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, is also collecting evidence of alleged fraud during vote counting and tabulation.

The election commission defended the electoral process, arguing that hundreds of observers, both domestic and international, had overseen the voting process.

Emphasizing his commitment to free and fair elections, Prime Minister Najib has vehemently denied the accusations.

  • Opposition supporters wave flags as they attend a rally to protest Sunday's election results at a stadium in Kelana Jaya, Malaysia, May 8, 2013.
  • Opposition supporters attend a rally to protest Sunday's election result at a stadium in Kelana Jaya, Malaysia, May 8, 2013.
  • Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim speaks during a rally to protest Sunday's election results at a stadium in Kelana Jaya, May 8, 2013.
  • Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak celebrates after winning elections at his party headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, early May 6, 2013.
  • Supporters of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim wave flags after polls closed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May 5, 2013.
  • Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim leaves a polling station with his wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail after casting their votes during the general elections in Permatang Pauh, Malaysia, May 5, 2013.
  • A voter has his finger painted with indelible ink before casting his votes during the general elections in Permatang Pauh, Malaysia, May 5, 2013.
  • Voters arrive outside a polling station during the general elections in Permatang Pauh, Malaysia, May 5, 2013.

Political analyst Keith Leong said the government has not shown an urgent willingness to investigate. He said, although alleged electoral fraud has long plagued Malaysian politics, ignoring it longer will ultimately erode the government’s legitimacy.

“The fact that people are talking about it now, it’s out in the open. Well maybe not in the mainstream media but online and amongst people they are talking about it so it is clearly a problem and if the government ignores it; I mean I can’t see how they afford to ignore this for too much longer,” he said.

Malaysia saw it highest ever voter turnout this year, with 80 percent, or some 10 million registered voters heading to the ballot box.

Despite the Barisan National win, independent media reported that Najib’s coalition won only 49 percent of the overall vote - the opposition securing 51 percent.

In what he called a ‘Chinese Tsunami’ Prime Minister Najib acknowledged that many ethnic Chinese sided with the opposition Sunday, and urged for national reconciliation to address what he described as an increasingly polarized Malaysian society - divided along racial lines.

Some analysts said Malaysia’s Chinese population is unhappy with government policies that unfairly benefit ethnic Malays.

But Leong said the divides are not confined to ethnicity. “It is also increasingly amongst social class and geographical demographics in the sense that both the urban and rural areas are pulling apart not only economically but toward social attitudes, political attitudes. And this is something that we will have to address sooner or later,” he said.

The popularity of Barisan National was hardest hit in the urban centers, while the opposition struggled to achieve broad appeal in rural areas.

The ruling coalition also failed to regain its two-thirds majority in parliament, a position Prime Minister Najib was under strong pressure to achieve

As the prime minister was sworn into office Monday afternoon, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim vowed to pursue his claims.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More