Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Opposition wins

June 1, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIA'S opposition won an easy victory on Sunday in a special election in a northern state after the ruling coalition declined to contest the vacant seat.

The opposition People's Alliance, led by former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, won the seat in the northern Penang state assembly with more than 6,000 votes.

Three independents received less than 1,000 votes in total. The winner, Mansor Othman, will also become deputy chief minister of Penang state.

'I'm thankful ... that the voters have given us a resounding victory,' Mr Anwar told The Associated Press.

The ruling National Front coalition had refused to contest the seat, which Prime Minister Najib Razak said was vacated through 'political games.'

The seat fell empty after the incumbent from the opposition alliance resigned amid unsubstantiated claims of corruption.

Mr Najib denied the ruling coalition feared defeat, but his administration is struggling amid complaints of corruption, poor economic management and racial discrimination.

If it ran and lost - a likely outcome in the opposition stronghold - it would have been the ruling party's fifth loss in six by-elections in less than a year.

Only 7,100 of more than 15,000 eligible voters cast ballots on Sunday, compared with a turnout of more than 80 per cent in 2008 general elections.

Mr Anwar dismissed the low turnout as 'quite expected' because the Election Commission had restricted vote canvassing on the election day. Opposition alliance politicians campaigned vigorously with nightly speeches during the past week but the election lost steam when the ruling coalition pulled out. -- AP

[And PM Najib takes the wind out of the sails of the opposition. Only 50% turnout, no heated electioneering. No bluster and strutting. No media circus. Congrats to PM Najib. He shows that he can rise above the tactics of the opposition and get on with the real work of governing and leading the country.]

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