Election result shows ethnic divide

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malaysia-geMalaysia’s governing coalition extended its half-century rule despite its worst-ever performance in a general election at a result that exposes growing racial polarisation in nation.

Barisan Nasional (BN) won 133 seats in the 222-member parliament, falling well short of the two-thirds majority that Najib had aimed to capture in the election, claiming a robust economy and $2.6 billion of social handouts to poor families.

In 2008, the ruling coalition won 140 seats, at the time its worst-ever showing. The opposition won 89 seats this year, up from 82 last time.

It were mainly ethnic Chinese –  who make up a quarter of Malaysians  – who continued to desert the National Front, accelerating a trend seen in the last election. They were attracted by the opposition’s pledge to tackle corruption and end race-based policies favoring ethnic Malays in business, education and housing.

However, “it’s not necessarily only the Chinese who have swung against the BN,” Ong Kian Ming, an opposition candidate who won in Selangor, said of Najib’s coalition. “It’s more complicated – a lot of urban Malays have swung against the BN as well.

The BN’s relatively weak win includes an element of political uncertainty. Najib originally promised to regain absolute majority, a target that he clearly missed. Observers say he now might face a leadership challenge from within his party UMNO later this year as a result of falling short.

There were also allegations of fraud. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim of the Pakatan Rakyat said the vote was tainted by widespread irregularities and did not reflect the popular will.

Anwar had accused the coalition of flying up to 40,000 “dubious” voters, including foreigners, across the country to vote in close races. The government says it was merely helping voters get to home towns. In fact, Thai-Malaysians have been brought across the border just for the purpose of voting.

Monitoring groups including Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, known as Bersih, saw an “improvement in the conduct of the election” despite a number of “major issues,” according to their preliminary report. These included the use of phantom voters, stained ballot papers, indelible ink that could be washed off and the arrest of seven poll monitors.

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Malaysia’s governing coalition extended its half-century rule despite its worst-ever performance in a general election at a result that exposes growing racial polarisation in nation.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

malaysia-geMalaysia’s governing coalition extended its half-century rule despite its worst-ever performance in a general election at a result that exposes growing racial polarisation in nation.

Barisan Nasional (BN) won 133 seats in the 222-member parliament, falling well short of the two-thirds majority that Najib had aimed to capture in the election, claiming a robust economy and $2.6 billion of social handouts to poor families.

In 2008, the ruling coalition won 140 seats, at the time its worst-ever showing. The opposition won 89 seats this year, up from 82 last time.

It were mainly ethnic Chinese –  who make up a quarter of Malaysians  – who continued to desert the National Front, accelerating a trend seen in the last election. They were attracted by the opposition’s pledge to tackle corruption and end race-based policies favoring ethnic Malays in business, education and housing.

However, “it’s not necessarily only the Chinese who have swung against the BN,” Ong Kian Ming, an opposition candidate who won in Selangor, said of Najib’s coalition. “It’s more complicated – a lot of urban Malays have swung against the BN as well.

The BN’s relatively weak win includes an element of political uncertainty. Najib originally promised to regain absolute majority, a target that he clearly missed. Observers say he now might face a leadership challenge from within his party UMNO later this year as a result of falling short.

There were also allegations of fraud. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim of the Pakatan Rakyat said the vote was tainted by widespread irregularities and did not reflect the popular will.

Anwar had accused the coalition of flying up to 40,000 “dubious” voters, including foreigners, across the country to vote in close races. The government says it was merely helping voters get to home towns. In fact, Thai-Malaysians have been brought across the border just for the purpose of voting.

Monitoring groups including Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, known as Bersih, saw an “improvement in the conduct of the election” despite a number of “major issues,” according to their preliminary report. These included the use of phantom voters, stained ballot papers, indelible ink that could be washed off and the arrest of seven poll monitors.

 

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