News / Asia

Malaysian PM Dissolves Parliament, Plans Elections

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak is seen on TV during a news bulletin as he announces the dissolution of parliament, at an electronics shop in Kuala Lumpur, April 3, 2013.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak is seen on TV during a news bulletin as he announces the dissolution of parliament, at an electronics shop in Kuala Lumpur, April 3, 2013.
Daniel Schearf
Malaysia has dissolved its parliament in preparation for an election that analysts say will be an historically close race.  Despite calls for a fair, transparent and peaceful election, there are concerns it will be marred by political violence and irregularities. 

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced the long-awaited dissolution of parliament Wednesday, live on national television.

Prime Minister Razak promised a fair and transparent election and urged all Malaysians to pray for a peaceful race.

"I would like to say and give my guarantee to all Malaysians and all the opposition party that if there is a shift in power, whether in the states or in the country, it will happen peacefull," he said.

The prime minister's United Malays National Organization has dominated politics since independence from Britain, more than 50 years ago.

But, its firm grip on power has weakened, through the years, amid a rising opposition and accusations of cronyism and corruption.

The 2008 elections saw its ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, lose a long-held two-thirds majority in parliament.

Clive Kessler is a professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney and long-time Malaysia watcher.  He says elections this year could make history.

"These are likely to be more fateful elections than ever before in Malaysia because they're likely to be closer and far more closely contested.  And, it's quite likely that, whatever the result, many people will not be happy with the outcome," he said.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim leads a loose coalition of opposition parties challenging the government.

But, activists say the election is already not free and fair. They say government parties weeks ago began campaign activities such as hanging flags and posters.

They also complain voter registration lists remain littered with dubious voters, including dead people and multiple-registrations.

Maria Chin Abdullah is a spokeswoman for Bersih 2.0, a coalition of activist groups re-formed in 2010 to push for electoral reform.  

She says Bersih will send observers to polling stations, but they are worried about political violence.

"We see that political violence is really on the rise and that is very worrying because, so far in most of our elections, we have not seen this kind of violence where gangsters are actually pulled in to actually intimidate, agitate, you know, threaten people," she said. "Some of the areas you can't even enter into, people get beaten.  So, this is really worrying."

During the announcement Wednesday.  Prime Minister Razak told the public not to worry about unrest during the election, saying security forces will do their duty.  Although the ruling coalition is multi-ethnic, as Malaysian society has become more diverse, the ruling party has been pushing for unity among Muslim Malays.

Political analysts say the strategy is costing it supporters among non-Malays, especially Chinese who make up a quarter of the population.

Kessler says the ruling party has lost touch and is encouraging conservative elements that may not accept a change in government.  He says authorities' handling of the aftermath of the election will be just as important as the election itself.

"There are at the ground level, behind the current government, a lot of ground-level street enforcers of Malay ethno-supremacist beliefs and commitments," he added. "And, even if the results go, perhaps, disappointingly for the prime minister and the government, but the prime minister says he's prepared to accept them, those street activists, those street enforcers will not accept it lightly.”

The exact date of Malaysia's election has not yet been announced but, by law, the election must take place within two months after parliament is dissolved.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states 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.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid