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

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
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 North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
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.

All About America

AppleAndroid