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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid