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 Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid