Malaysian PM may opt for early parliamentary poll


Kuala Lumpur : Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak may opt for parliamentary polls – nearly two years ahead of schedule, a media report said Sunday.

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Addressing the 61st general assembly of United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the ruling party that he heads, Najib Saturday gave “the clearest indication yet” that the 13th general election was imminent, The Star newspaper said.

As of now, the parliamentary poll is scheduled for March 2013.

Najib, who took over as the prime minister in April last year, “told the party faithful to get ready for it and to get into battle mode”.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was “even more direct” when he said that “it cannot be denied that the general election is just a few months away”.

The party general assembly “has been abuzz with talk that the elections could be held as early as July 2011”, the newspaper said.

Najib took over from Ahmed Abdullah Badawi, who quit after the party and the Barisan Nasional, the ruling alliance, fared badly, losing the traditional two-thirds parliamentary majority in March 2008 and control of four of the 13 states.

Multi-racial Malaysia is home to 2.1 million ethnic Indians who form eight percent of the country’s 28 million population.

The ruling alliance, which includes a number of Indian-based parties, has had a victory run in by-elections.

The opposition alliance, Pakatan Rakyat, led by former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, is widely perceived as having lost ground, media reports have said.

Ibrahim remains a controversial figure. Ten years after he was sacked from deputy prime ministership in 1998, tried and jailed on charge of sodomy, he faced a similar charge in 2009. He is under trial now.

Race relations is a sensitive issue in Malaysia. Its polity tries to balance between majority Malay Muslims and ethnic Chinese and Indians.

Najib told delegates that “a new mechanism” was needed to sustain relations as enshrined in the constitution so that they remain harmonious.

His government recently set up a special body called the Bumiputra Agenda Supreme Council to look after their economic interests. Bumiputra, or the sons of the soil, refers to the Malays.