Malaysia wakes to new political landscape

Malaysia wakes to new political landscape

( Reuter )- Malaysians awoke on Sunday to the biggest sea-change in politics in almost 40 years, with opposition Islamists and reformists winning control of five states and giving the government a humiliating wake-up call.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's multi-racial National Front coalition won just a simple majority in parliament, and his future as leader is in doubt after he watched a record majority collapse to the weakest level ever.

His predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad , urged him to quit. "He should accept responsibility," said Mahathir who now says he made a mistake in picking Abdullah as his successor and that the current deputy premier, Najib Razak , should have taken over.

The streets were unusually quiet on Sunday, with many older Malaysians fearful of trouble. The last time the coalition suffered a heavy setback, in 1969, race riots erupted. Barisan has effectively ruled since independence from Britain in 1957.

"I am shocked. It feels Malaysia is a whole new country. It feels like it has been reborn," Daniel Sia , a 27-year-old civil engineer, said as he did some Sunday shopping in the capital.

Lai Yee Fei , 28, who works at a coffee bar beneath Kuala Lumpur's soaring twin towers, said she was glad that Malaysia now had a strong opposition to press the government.

"It's good to give some pressure for Barisan Nasional ," she said. "If the opposition parties can stand up for us, on behalf of us, I think it's good."

Abdullah, who only four years ago led the coalition to a record election victory on a wave of hope for change, faced a bleak political future on Sunday, his aides stunned but not willing to concede that he must step down.

"Frankly, this is not really the time because a lot of component parties (of Barisan ) have been decimated," one close aide said, declining to be identified. "We have lost a few people and I think it's time to consolidate."

Abdullah's humbling performance nationally -- the coalition ended up with 62 percent of federal seats, down from 90 percent previously -- was compounded by the fact that his own home state, the industrial heartland of Penang , fell to the opposition.

The leftist Chinese-backed Democratic Action Party (DAP) won Penang , the hub for Malaysia's electronics industry, which accounts for about half of exports.

The opposition Islamist party PAS scored shock victories in the northern heartland states of Kedah and Perak and easily retained power in its stronghold in northeastern Kelantan state.

DAP and PAS also joined the People's Justice Party, or Parti Keadilan , to take control of the industrial state of Selangor and almost all the seats in capital Kuala Lumpur.

Political experts and economists wondered aloud whether the Barisan government could now pursue its agenda, including plans for $325 billion in development zones across the country.

Without a two-thirds parliamentary majority, Barisan can no longer change the constitution or make some key appointments and could struggle to alter electoral boundaries, powers that the opposition have long maintained were abused by Barisan .

"This is probably not good news for the equity market or the ringgit ," said Tim Condon, Singapore-based head of Asia research for investment bank ING.

The pro-government media, Abdullah's cheer-leader during the campaign, changed tack on Sunday, urging Barisan to ensure better job and education opportunities in this multi-racial nation.

Malaysia is largely a mix of ethnic Malays, which make up about 55 percent of the population, and ethnic Chinese and Indians, who account for about a third.

A protest vote from Chinese and Indians, upset over what they saw as racial inequality in terms of business, job and education opportunities, had been expected. The Indians were merciless, voting out the leader of the coalition's Indian component party and handing a seat to an Indian activist currently in detention.

But Malays, who are all Muslims and traditionally support Barisan in good times and bad, completed a perfect storm for the government, handing the opposition Islamists a record vote in what was perceived as a protest against rising prices.

"Tomorrow we will start building a brighter future," said opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim , de facto leader of Parti Keadilan , which emerged as the biggest opposition party in federal parliament with 31 seats. "This is a new dawn for Malaysia."

Anwar , a Malay and former deputy premier, is widely seen as the only politician who could unify the ideologically divided opposition into a coherent and credible political force, though many political experts see this an almost possible task.

Anwar was banned from standing in the elections because of a criminal record -- he spent six years in jail until 2004 on what he called trumped-up charges -- but is expected to take over his old seat from his wife, who has held it since his 1998 jailing.

Results from the elections commission as of 0320 GMT showed the National Front with 137 seats in the 222-seat parliament versus 82 for the opposition, with 3 seats still being tallied.

Money supply in Azerbaijan grows - CBA
Money supply in Azerbaijan grows - CBA
Lending to banking sector in Azerbaijan up
Lending to banking sector in Azerbaijan up
Uzbek gas chemical company opens tender for insurance services
Uzbek gas chemical company opens tender for insurance services
Loading Bars
Latest
“I am quite sure that giving a hand to customers in this challenging time will pay off in the future”: interview with Dariusz Kacprzyk, Member of Supervisory Board of AccessBank Azerbaijan
Import of Turkish ready-made clothes by Iran down
Water resources of Azerbaijan’s Kalbajar district to be re-explored
Turkey's export of ready-made clothes to Uzbekistan down
Money supply in Azerbaijan grows - CBA
Lending to banking sector in Azerbaijan up
Turkmenistan raises 10M2020 imports of Turkish ready-made clothes
Uzbek gas chemical company opens tender for insurance services
Precious metal prices in Azerbaijan up
Azerbaijan’s natural gas exports to Turkey down by 8%
German manufactures interested in buying high-quality walnuts in Georgia
New carpet factory opens in Turkmenistan
German company builds float glass plant in Uzbekistan’s Zarafshan city
Iranian oil minister talks about petrochemical facilities launched in Iran
Azerbaijan can't be pressured by adopting some paper piece - parliament's vice speaker
Azerbaijani parliament voices appeal to government due to France
Azerbaijan to implement digitalization of services of local executive authorities
French Senate betrays democratic values - Turkish government
China's import of Turkish cement up
Azerbaijani parliament condemns resolution adopted by French Senate
AP highlights devastation caused by Armenia in Azerbaijan’s Aghdam
Azerbaijan's ADY Express boosts daily volume of cargo handling at Astara terminal
Turkish Foreign Ministry condemns French Senate’s resolution on Karabakh
French Senate's resolution is not binding, says ambassador
Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications developing final strategy of 'Smart City' project
Protesters give statement in front of French embassy in Baku (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Integration of modern solutions contributes to growth of online sales - MiMobile
Georgia eyes to minimize negative impact of global crisis on country's private sector
Int’l standard of energy management system to be introduced at Uzbekneftegaz facilities
LUKOIL to restore daily gas production in Uzbekistan
Turkmenistan building new greenhouses
Georgia reports 3,801 new cases of coronavirus
Azerbaijan's parliament to make statement on draft resolution adopted by French Senate
Israel changed plans to buy AstraZeneca vaccine
Azerbaijan to provide grants, loans, investments to startup environment
Minister talks benefit of pipeline from Russia to supply some Kazakh regions with gas
Uzbekistan to launch numerous petrochemical industry projects in 2021
Measures to attract investors to Uzbek mining, geological industry discussed at int’l forum
NCOC reports yet another milestone at Kazakhstan-based Kashagan field
Georgia looking for contractor for terminal extension at Kutaisi International Airport
Kazakhstan boosts trade turnover with Lithuania despite COVID-19
Snam raises planned investments in new strategy
Snam raises its emission reduction target to 50%
Number of enterprises launched in Iran's East Azerbaijan Province decreases
US Venture Fund to bring Azerbaijani projects to int'l markets
Azerbaijani oil prices on the rise
Turkmenistan, EU discuss prospects for development of greenhouses
French PROPARCO taking steps to support Georgian micro, small and medium-sized enterprises
Possible changes to OPEC+ quotas pose downside risks to Kazakhstan's economic forecast
Iran discloses details of exports from Razavi Khorasan Province
Income from communication services of Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan up
Broad money value goes on increasing in Kazakhstan month-on-month
Snam outlines contribution to TAP’s implementation
Disney to layoff about 32,000 workers in first half of 2021
Iran declares details of exports from Qom Province
Southern Gas Corridor could carry new sources of energy in future – Eurogas
Kazakhstan’s Almaty Power Stations JSC extends tender to buy compressors
Turkmenistan, Russia agree to expand co-op in electric power industry
Azerbaijan implementing projects within North-South Transport Corridor
Europe needs fundamental restructuring of its energy system, says Eurogas
INPEX using drone technology, augmented reality to keep smooth output
India records 44,489 new coronavirus cases
France-24 shows reportage on Kalbajar district's liberation from Armenian occupation (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Central Bank of Azerbaijan talks advantages of digital payments
Iranian currency rates for November 26
Azerbaijani currency rates for Nov. 26
Senate's resolution over Nagorno Karabakh not reflecting French government's policy - MFA
Bitcoin price drops more than $1,000 in Asian trade
Turkmenistan, Russia aim to develop co-op in field of digital communication, information
Azerbaijan eliminating damages caused by Armenia to gas sector in Tartar's settlement (PHOTO)
Uzbekistan reveals its COVID-19 data for November 26
Iran beats new record on gas consumption
Iran releases data on exports from Tehran
Iran to expand trade with Azerbaijan
Iran to buy 42 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine
Armenian acts of terrorism on previously occupied territories of Azerbaijan must be condemned by European countries - US expert
Georgia reveals profit of microfinance sector
South Korea, China top diplomats vow to work on North Korea, COVID-19
Turkey mulls new support measures for businesses hit by COVID-19
Tehran-Najaf flights resumed
Kazakhstan detects 820 new coronavirus cases in 24 hrs
Incumbent MP Sopio Kiladze elected member of UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
Canada police supervisor denies effort to deceive Huawei CFO about indictment
Georgia E-Space to create synergy of solar power plant and electric car charging infrastructure
Amazon workers in Germany to go on strike on 'Black Friday'
Kazakhstan's KazMunayGas forecasts annual oil output decrease
More migrants relocated from Malta to EU countries
U.S. grants ByteDance new seven-day extension of TikTok sale order
82 bandits killed in Nigerian airstrikes
China, Kyrgyzstan to boost pragmatic cooperation
AzerGold CJSC talks plans for extraction of precious metals
Kazakhstan’s Almaty Power Stations JSC opens tender to buy compressors
Volume of funds allocated to fixed capital increases in Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan
Retail trade turnover of Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic drops
Azerbaijani MoD unveils footage depicting advancement of Azerbaijani armyuits to liberated Kalbajar region (VIDEO/PHOTO)
Resolution of France's Senate nothing more than piece of paper for Azerbaijan - top official
Resolution adopted by France's Senate has no legal force - MFA
IKEA investment arm in talks to buy city-centre retail property in big European cities
Kazinform and IRNA news agencies hold joint online conference
China increases import of Turkish cars
All news