National Front coalition wins in Malaysia

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Singapore, Mar 9: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's multi-racial National Front coalition won a simple majority in Parliament.

The BN, ruling for the past five decades since independence, could manage only 139 of the 220 seats counted out of the 222 parliamentary seats, while the opposition took 82 seats and achieved its objectives of denying the ruling party coalition a two-third majority, and increased their presence from the 19 seats held in the last Parliament. Polling in the rest of the seats have been delayed today. Mr Abdullah had led the BN for the 12 general elections, a year ahead of schedule, seeking a fresh mandate.

But the opposition mounted an unprecedented challenge and reduced BN's 91 per cent majority in the last Parliament, defeating some of the top leaders and cabinet ministers of the BN components -- United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), and supported by a number of other parties including the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) and the Gerakan state party.

MIC president and Malaysia's top Indian leader S. Samy Vellu lost his parliamentary seat after leading the party for more than three decades. BN also just managed 305 state assembly seats of the 505 seats. The opposition took the rest.

In a statement issued early this morning, the Premier urged people to remain calm, and not to celebrate in the streets, fearing a backlash as the established BN machinery was virtually shocked by the defeat in five states and loss of two other ministers, two deputy ministers and a chief minister of Penang state, a Malaysian commercial hub off the north western Peninsular Malaysia.

Samy Vellu, also Works Minister, was the main target of ethnic Indians, who had since last November held rallies and protests, highlighting their plights of being left out of the Malaysian prosperity.

Dr D. Jeyakumar, from the former sacked deputy Prime Minister Mr Anwar Ibrahim's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) defeated Mr Vellu, who had been winning the Sungai Siput seat since 1974.

M. Manoharan, a 46-year old lawyer detained under the Internal Security Act since last December for participating in the November protests, won a state seat in the central Peninsular Malaysian state of Selangor.

Ms Pushpaneela, who has been campaigning on behalf of her detained husband, said he would not know of the win immediately and urged stalwarts of his party, Democratic Action Party (DAP), to fight for his release immediately.

Party Islam Se Malaysia (PAS) along with DAP and PKR has won the Kedah and Kelantan states while DAP, also supported by PKR and PAS has taken the Penang and Perak states in the northern Peninsular and Selangor state in central Peninsula.

The BN has the consolation of winning back the east coast state of Trenggannu from PAS along with retaining the remainder seven states.

In 1969, the 14-party coalition BN had failed to win two third majority.


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