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Showdown Malaysia

SHOWDOWN MALAYSIA More than 13 million Malaysians are expected to vote on May 5 in a general election considered to be the closest and most fiercely fought since the country gained independence from Britain in 1957. History will be made. The run-up to this vote has been marked by mudslinging and scandals. The murky world of Malaysian politics has reached fever pitch amid predictions of a too-close-to-call poll. Key facts and timeline C Population: 29.63 million C GDP per capita (PPP): $16,900 ( Date of independence: Malaya on August 31, 1957; formation of Malaysia on September 16, 1963, when Sarawak and Sabah joined Malaya. Anwar is released Religious tensions increase following a court decision allowing non-Muslims to use the word Allah Prime Minister Mahathir Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is named prime minister as Mahathir resigns after 22 years in power. Mohamad sacks his from jail. deputy Anwar Ibrahim for alleged sexual misconduct. refer to God. Anwar is found guilty of sodomising a Abdullah and Barisan Nasional win a landslide Abdullah's National Front coalition suffers its worst election result in decades The High Court acquits Anwar of additional sodomy charges made in 2008. former male aide and general election victory. jailed for nine years. after Anwar leads the opposition to unprecedented gains. 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 POLITICAL GRUDGE MATCH Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak vs opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim Najib Tun Razak Anwar Ibrahim C Born July 23, 1953, in Pahang. C Son of Malaysia's second prime minister, nephew of its third. C Born August 10, 1947, in Pahang. C Married with five children: wife and daughter are both active in politics. C Married with five children. C Graduate in Industrial Economics from the University of Nottingham. C Graduate in Malay Studies from the University of Malaya; held teaching posts at Johns Hopkins, Oxford and Georgetown universities. C President of United Malays National Organisation and prime minister since April 3, 2009. C Served as deputy prime minister and finance minister; led calls for reform after he was sacked and United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) People's Justice Party (PKR) later jailed; freed from prison in 2004; banned from politics until March 2008. The elections may prove the final chapter in a bitter rivalry between two powerful leaders. Only one of them will be left standing. Anwar, a former finance and deputy prime minister with Barisan, has weathered a decades-long political odyssey unmatched even in Southeast Asia's raucous political arena. Prime Minister Najib Razak, the economist- trained son of a former premier, was appointed to his post after his ruling Barisan Nasional plummeted in the polls in 2008. Touting stability and economic progress, he has asked voters for a popular mandate for more time to enact reforms. Sacked from government in the late 1990s for launching a challenge to ex-prime minister Mahatir Mohamad, Anwar has survived numerous charges of sexual misconduct only to come inches away from his ultimate goal. This election will be his last chance. Najib has harnessed state-controlled media and a wave of populist measures, handouts and campaign promises to keep his popularity hovering above 60 percent in recent opinion polls. The former Islamist student leader is the glue holding together the Pakatan Rakyat, a shaky coalition of nationalists, ethnic minorities, hardline Islamists, socialist democrats and free-market technocrats. Najib and the political machine of the ruling Barisan Nasional will be tough to beat. The only politician up for the challenge is longtime opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar and the Pakatan are running on an anti-corruption and minority rights platform, and calling for less income inequality. He has called for an end to the race-based initiatives that are the foundation of his rivals' power. NATION AT THE CROSSROADS Barisan Nasional (National Front) vs Pakatan Rakyat (People's Alliance) States won in 2008 election Barisan Nasional / Pakatan Rakyat Perlis Kedah Kelantan Penang Terengganu Perak* Sabah Sarawak Selangor Pahang Negeri Sembilan Malacca Johor * Pakatan Rakyat won Perak state in 2008, but three legislators later defected to the Barisan Nasional, giving it control. The Barisan bloc, led by the ethno-nationalist United Malays National Organisation, has ruled Malaysia in one form or another for more than 50 years. The 13-party coalition was shocked with electoral losses in 2008, but its biggest challenge The revitalised opposition, Pakatan, consists of three major parties, the centrist non-ethnic People's Justice Party (PKR), Democratic Action Party (DAP), and Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS). The coalition came into being as the Barisan Alternatif in 1999, but quickly fell apart. The group was revived in 2008, and stunned the ruling party with victories in five states and 47 percent of the popular vote. yet comes on May 5. The bloc has drawn criticism, mostly from Malaysia's Chinese and Indian voters, (who together make up almost a third of the population) over its pro-Malay affirmative action initiatives, nepotism and graft. Recent public surveys rank corruption as a key voter concern. Pakatan's powerbase is made up of ethnic Chinese from the DAP and the Islamist PAS, and the coalition has been able to lure young voters with its mantra of change and equality. In response, Barisan is promoting new candidates for one-third of its parliament seats, with many veteran political celebrities standing down for fresh faces. It may not be enough. Opposition candidates are pledging to slash utility costs, such as oil, water and power, as well as boost wages, and eradicate racial preferences in business and education. Barisan Nasional's share of the popular vote 1974 1978 1982 1986 1990 1995 1999 2004 2008 |I|||||| 60.8% 57.2% 60.5% 57.3% 53.4% 65.2% 56.5%63.9% 51.1% The Pakatan made huge gains in the 2008 election and broke the ruling party's two-thirds majority in parliament that is needed to amend the constitution. Pakatan won five states outright, although it later lost control of one, and only lost the popular vote by a few percentage points. Malaysia's "first-past- the-post" electoral system means that the opposition's share of the popular vote, 47 percent, is not reflected in the one-third of parliamentary seats it won. Barisan Nasional (National Front) Pakatan Rakyat (People's Alliance) United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) People's Justice Party (PKR) Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) Democratic Action Party (DAP) (Three largest parties shown) 2004 Parliament seats won 2008 199 / 19 140 / 82 219 seats 222 seats (one seat won by an independent) THE RACE CARD Social reform vs race-based politics Nearly all of Malaysia's political parties are based on the representation of a specific race. Critics have called this practice divisive; supporters say it's the best way of reaching social equality. Playing kingmaker is the ethnic Chinese community, who make up roughly a quarter of the population and are the dominant force in business. Malay 60% Chinese Indian Others 23% 7% 10% Despite Barisan moves to lure the Chinese electorate, Al Jazeera's 101 East has reported that the community appears steadfast in its anti-establishment stand. The Chinese-majority state of Penang, which fell to the opposition for the first time in 2008, is a symbol of economic reform, notably for dismantling the 42-year-old New Economic Policy which favours Malays. The government has defended Malay affirmative action, arguing that the private sector is almost absolutely controlled by ethnic Chinese and provides scant opportunities for Malays. SOCIAL MEDIA SLUGFEST Old tactics versus new technology The Barisan political machine, boosted by an old guard of tycoons and powerbrokers, has traditionally benefitted from the control of mainstream print and broadcast media. The emergence of the internet, however, has overturned the older coalition's advantage in the press and intensified the fight for the growing number of young and wired Malaysians. In the calamitous 2008 polls, as Asia Times Online's Anil Netto wrote: “[Barisan] was caught flat- footed by the opposition's savvy use of websites, blogs, SMS messaging and email to reach voters... Opposition politicians and supporters continue to outflank [Barisan] on social media platforms..." Since the poll setback, Barisan has scrambled to increase its online presence. Leading the charge has been Najib, who in February called the May 5 vote Malaysia's "first social media election." Facebook users in Malaysia (total and percent of population) 2008 2013 0.8m 13.4m 3% 47% KEY ELECTION PLAYERS Muhyiddin Yassin Hishammuddin Hussein C Born May 15, 1947, in Johor. C Married with four children. C Born August 5, 1961, in Kuala Lumpur. C Married. C Graduate in Economics and Malay Studies from University of Malaya. C Son of Malaysia's third prime minister Hussein Onn, cousin of current PM Najib Razak, and grandson of UMNO founder Onn Jaafar. C Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister since 2008; UMNO Deputy President since 2009. Previously Minister of International Trade and Industry and Minister of Agriculture. C Graduate in Law from University of Wales, Aberystwyth and LLM from LSE. C Home Minister since 2009 and United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) previously minister of education. Nurul Izzah Anwar Nik Aziz Nik Mat C Born November 19, 1980, in Kuala Lumpur. C Born January 10, 1931, in Kelantan. C Married with two children. C Married with 10 children. C Graduate in Engineering from Universiti Tenaga Nasional, with C Graduate in Arabic Studies and Islamic jurisprudence from Al Azhar University in Egypt. a Master's in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University. C Spiritual leader of PAS and Chief Minister of northeastern Kelantan state since 1990; C Anwar's eldest child, Nurul was just 18 when her father was jailed and she travelled the world campaigning on his behalf. widely respected for his modest lifestyle. C She was elected as one of the vice presidents of Keadilan in 2010. People's Justice Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) Party (PKR) Lim Guan Eng Tony Pua C Born August 1, 1972, in Johor. C Born December 8, 1960, in Johor. C Son of DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang. Married with four children. C Married with two children. C Graduate in Economics from Monash University and qualified C Graduate in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford C University. accountant. Founder and CEO of C Singapore-listed Cyber Village. He sold off the business in 2007 when he entered politics. C Detained for 18 months under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in 1987. C Secretary General of the Democratic Action Party since 2004; Chief Minister of Penang C Elected to parliament for DAP in 2008, now servers as party's National Publicity Secretary. Democratic Action Party (DAP) Democratic Action since 2008. Party (DAP) Sources: CIA World Factbook Inter-parliamentary Union Demographic Statistics Division, Malaysia Socialbakers ALJAZEERA BY NO ND

Showdown Malaysia

shared by b_willers on Apr 30
Election run-up reaches fever pitch ahead of May 5 polls, in country riven by ethnic and political splits


Al Jazeera



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