Malaysian PM unveils election manifesto

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Singapore, Feb 26: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has unveiled the Election manifesto supporting the ruling multi-party coalition of Barisan Nasional (BN) which faced a renewed challenge in March 8 polls.

The manifesto stressed on security, peace and prosperity and assures of protection of worship places for non-Muslim Malaysians, following the widespread protests led by the country's ethnic Indians on temple demolition and expression of concerns by Christians on Muslim converts, which have been regularly highlighted since November last year. The BN promises two million more jobs, control rising cost of essential material and food, reduce budget deficit and fork out more development funds. Eradicate poverty and bring its rate down to 2.8 per cent by 2010, increase quality rural jobs and incomes, and provide affordable housing as well as education and training.

Mr Abdullah said the B N government had brought down poverty rates significantly, closed the urban-rural gap and ensured a good quality of life for the lower income groups during its regime.

These targets were achieved during challenging times, with global oil and food prices at record level, he said, pointing to the impact of the rising oil prices and other significant international events could have on the domestic economic landscape.

"But we stand ready to anticipate, preempt and take measures to safeguard the well-being of the people, whatever the challenge", he said.

The BN, led by the United Malays National Organization and supported by a number of parties including the Malaysian Chinese Association and the Malaysian Indian Congress is contesting 215 parliamentary seats in the March 8 poll, having been returned unopposed in seven constituencies.

The challenge for Mr Abdullah is to retain the 90 per cent absolute majority won in the 2004 elections, when BN returned to power with 199 of the 219 seats.

Political observers say it is an uphill task for the BN, ruling for over 50 years the independent Peninsular Malaysia along with the Borneo states of Sarawak and Sabah.


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