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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid