Malaysian PM dissolves parliament to set stage for polls

Kuala Lumpur, April 3 (IANS) Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak Wednesday dissolved the parliament, setting the stage for elections in the country.

Najib’s announcement from his office was telecast live on national television.

The election commission is expected to announce polls date by this week, reported Xinhua.

The election, which is the country’s 13th since its establishment, is expected to put pressure on Najib, tasked with helping the ruling coalition National Front recover from its worst ever showing in the previous election.

The National Front has ruled the country since independence 56 years ago.

In 2008, the National Front won 140 of the 222 seats in the parliament — less than two-thirds of the majority, and lost five of 13 states to opposition People’s Alliance.

Najib was sworn into office in 2009 as the sixth prime minister of the country and assumed a turbulent term marred by a surge in number of mass rallies, with the biggest being those staged by activists protesting against electoral fraud.

The government heeded some of the demands made by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, Bersih.

It said it has tried to keep the electoral roll up to date and free of fraud, enabled postal voting for Malaysians abroad for the first time in history and made the use of indelible ink mandatory to prevent repeat voters.

Najib has been striving to outdo his predecessor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi by introducing a series of civil reforms, abolishing harsh security laws and launching transformation blueprints to increase government efficiency and stimulate economy.

Economy grew 5.6 percent last year, registering 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter.

He was more socially active than his predecessors, personally engaging the young and minority electorates who have swung heavily to the opposition in recent years.

Najib’s popularity rating slipped to 61 percent in February from 63 percent in December, according to a survey conducted by independent pollster Merdeka Centre.

Parliamentary and state elections would be held simultaneously and must be called by June, the election commission had said earlier.

Analysts said failure to improve the 2008’s election result would cost Najib his job and strengthen the young People’s Alliance — an opposition bloc of three parties that was formed after the 2008 election by former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Ending his speech, the prime minister urged the people to give the governing coalition another chance to lead.

“I would like to urge the political parties and the citizens that if there were any transition of power, may it be one that is conducted peacefully and orderly. This is our commitment towards democracy,” Najib said.

“The National Front leaders and I will meet the people to assure them why we should be given another mandate with strong majority so that we can use it, God willing, to intensify our efforts to build a brighter future for the country,” he added.

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