Malaysian PM sworn in for second term

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Singapore, Mar 10: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was sworn in for a second term today, after salvaging a win from Saturday's general elections.

Mr Badawi took the oath at 1110 hrs (local time) in front of King Mizan Zainal Abidin, the constitutional monarch, and dozens of government dignitaries but amidst calls by his critics, calling him to step down from the biggest political group. This has been the worst performance of Mr Badawi's ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), which left oppositions with a strong position in parliament and at state levels.

The BN's predominantly Malay party United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) managed only 79 parliamentary seats and its three main components 'the Malaysian Chinese Association had 15 seats, the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) three seats and Gerakan, a regional party in the northern peninsular state of Penang, had two seats'.

This gave BN a total of 140 seats in the house of 222 seats, down from its 91 per cent majority in the last parliament.

The opposition of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) of sacked deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Islam Se Malaysia (PAS) took 31 seats, 28 seats and 23 seats, respectively.

The three parties also shocked Malaysians by winning five state assembly elections in Peninsular Malaysia, namely Kelantan, Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor, as they swept 198 assembly seats against BN's 307 seats.

Meanwhile, MIC, representing the ethnic Indian community was routed in the general elections following a backlash from the local Indian community for having failed to protect their interests in prosperous Malaysia.

The MIC lost six of the nine parliamentary seats and 12 out of the 19 state seats it had contested last Saturday nationwide.

MIC secretary general Dr S Subramaniam conceded that the party had expected to lose two to three seats. MIC president S Samy Vellu, along with deputy president G Palanivel and three vice presidents, S Sothinathan, S Veerasingam, and Dr S Nijhar lost their partliamentary seats.

Dr Subramaniam, who won a parliamentary seat on Saturday, said the party would have to work hard if it wanted to stay relevant in the Malaysian politics.

''We were completely wiped out,'' he said, adding that the party would have to do ''some soul searching'' within the next four year being a tough period.


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