People of Northwest Public Radio
Sun May 5, 2013
Malaysia: Entrenched Coalition Wins 13th Straight Election
The National Front coalition that has governed Malaysia for 56 consecutive years won a majority of parliamentary seats in a general election Sunday, extending its streak of victories that began in 1957.
Malaysian election officials reported a record voter turnout in Sunday's national election, as more than 10 million voters — or 80 percent of the electorate — cast ballots.
"The Election Commission reported that Prime Minister Najib Razak's National Front coalition captured 127 of Malaysia's 222 parliamentary seats to win a majority Sunday," the AP reports. "Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's three-party alliance seized 77 seats, and other races were too close to call."
The incumbent, Prime Minister Najib Razak, tweeted, "It's been a long and hard-fought election. Now it's time to move toward national reconciliation." He later added, "This election was true, fair and transparent. I hope the opposition accepts the result with an open heart."
Razak's opponents are questioning the victory and urging Malaysia's election officials to investigate.
"It is unfair to expect us to form a decision based primarily on the results of an election that is considered fraudulent," opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said, according to Malaysian news outlet The Star.
He said his Pakatan Rakyat coalition would not accept the results until their complaints had been answered.
Those complaints began before the election, according to the BBC, which reports, "Some of those who voted in advance told BBC News that indelible ink on their hands - supposed to last for days and show they had already voted - had easily washed off."
The BBC notes that the National Front, "while credited with bringing economic development and political stability, has also been tainted by allegations of corruption."
And as The Malaysian Insider reports, the Pakatan Rakyat has complained that vote counts from the military and police showed suspiciously low support for the opposition party, adding that "ballot boxes have been left in police stations under the care of the police" and election officials.
"We would like to submit our suspicion of the result as they stand," the party said in a statement.
A petition has been started at the White House's website, asking for America's help "to ensure the election can be conducted in clean and fair manners."
Its authors allege that foreign workers were brought from Bangladesh to vote in Malaysia's general election.
According to the White House website, the petition, titled Democracy crisis in Malaysia, has been signed more than 160,000 times since it was created Saturday.