Malaysia’s government is discussing the possibility of an early election in May or June, ahead of the due date in early 2013, according to four officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are private. Prime Minister Najib Razak is scheduled to speak on March 26 to as many as 4,000 information ministry staff, who help oversee elections, the government officials said. One date proposed for the contest is June 3, according to three of the officials. The ruling National Front coalition is seeking to extend its 55 years in power, and an early vote would allow Najib to take advantage of rising public approval after the government announced cash handouts and vowed to overhaul security laws. Satisfaction with Najib’s leadership rose to 69 percent last month from 59 percent in August, according to a poll by the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research. “All signs seem to be pointing toward an election at the end of May or early June,” Ong Kian Ming, a political analyst at UCSI University in Kuala Lumpur, said by phone. “It’s the best timing for Najib. If he does wait longer there may be other scandals that emerge and the goodwill that he’s enjoying from the budget handouts given out earlier this year may be lost.”
While Najib has offered election sweeteners, he is also grappling with a potential scandal after a member of the ruling party said she’ll resign from the Cabinet amid a corruption probe against her husband. Shahrizat Abdul Jalil will step down next month as minister for women, family and community, according to the Star newspaper. Najib had already sparked speculation of an early vote when he said in December that preparations had begun for the contest. His budget announced in October featured cash payments to low- income families. Malaysia will also announce plans for a minimum wage this month, a government official said earlier this week. Najib’s cabinet has yet to complete the plan, according to the official. Najib’s rising popularity has reduced the risk of a surprise election result such as one that occurred in 2008 and led to a stock market sell-off, according to a March 13 report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In 2008, the ruling National Front lost a third of its seats.
Since Najib took office in April 3, 2009, the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index (FBMKLCI) has risen 74 percent compared with a 47 percent gain for the MSCI Asia Pacific index. “The Prime Minister is focused on delivering prosperity, security and democracy for all Malaysians and will call an election when the time is right for the country,” a Malaysian government spokesperson said by e-mail. Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was acquitted of sodomy charges in January that he claimed were politically motivated. He pledged to “clamor for reform” in a bid to unseat Najib after the verdict. Gross domestic product may expand 5 percent to 6 percent this year, Najib said in the annual budget speech on Oct. 7. The economy expanded by 5.1 percent last year, the government said Feb. 15. Before 2008, the worst showing for the National Front was in 1969, when candidates representing urban ethnic Chinese and rural Islamic opposition groups won more than a third of seats in Parliament. Ethnic Chinese victory marches prompted a backlash from Malay groups that led to emergency rule. Najib’s father, Abdul Razak, took over as prime minister in 1970 and responded by creating an affirmative-action policy that gave Malays educational, housing and job preferences.
NEW YORK, February 9, 2011 – The US should actively support the burgeoning democratic movements in Egypt and throughout the Muslim world, argues Anwar Ibrahim, who sees American support for embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the context of a larger “policy of ambivalence.” “You talk about democracy and freedom; you support autocrats and dictators,” said the former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia. “I’m not suggesting the Americans send troops. I’ve always consistently opposed the sending of troops. “But you have to take a position—like [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdo?an. His position is clear: when it comes to the people against the corrupt, repressive rulers, you must be with the people. That is what we stand for. You use the term ‘inalienable rights,’ but when it comes to some communities you can compromise.”
Ibrahim, who many feel has been unfairly persecuted by the Malaysian government because of his calls for democratic reform, was joined in conversation by Asia Society Associate Fellow Ann Marie Murphy, who is Associate Professor at Seton Hall University’s John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations and adjunct research scholar at Columbia University’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute. The implications of the Egyptian uprising for the entire Muslim world are enormous, according to Ibrahim, who noted that “no Muslim country, from Pakistan to Indonesia, Malaysia, South Thailand, or South Philippines, did not produce thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of graduates from Egypt.” Ibrahim denied that the revolts in Egypt and elsewhere were being hijacked by radical Islamists, as some in the West fear.
“Let us be clear that these initial revolutions, be they in Tunisia or Egypt, are quite spontaneous. They are popular movements. You can’t say that they are either Islamic or secular movements; they are just peoples’ movements, and the issues are clear: they want to rid their country of decadent, corrupt, repressive rulers. They want democracy and freedom, and of course more transparent policies that guarantee their welfare and economic well-being. The basic issues are still economic.”
~Reported by Ben Linden From Asia Society~
The prime minister may make light of the survey findings which indicate that most Malaysians want him to debate with Anwar Ibrahim but the sad fact is that this man has too many skeletons and question marks next to his name to risk a debate even with Jelapang Hu.
Therefore the best he can do via his blog (again a safe option so he will not have to answer tough questions from the alternative media) is to talk about only debating with responsible leaders and not those prone to conspiracy theories.
This is diversion 101: when you are stuck, blame the other party. In truth, Najib Razak will not debate with anyone and these are the reasons:
1) He will be asked questions about his deafening silence in the wake of the campaign of violence by his party and their storm troopers Perkasa against the Opposition.
2) He will be asked about the ballooning national debt and the irresponsible manner in which his government is spending money to buy votes.
3) He will be asked to justify the unholy haste in which the government is pushing through the listing of Felda.
4) He will be asked to answer questions on the death of Mongolian model Altantuya Shariibuu, the infamous sms exchange between him and lawyer Shafee Abdullah and the hefty commission paid to a company linked to his confidant in relation to the submarine deal.
5) He will be asked to define his moving 1 Malaysia concept in the wake of his adoption of Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali, Zulkifli Noordin and Hasan Ali.
6) He will be asked to debate the NEP and its love affair with cronies.
7) He will have to discuss the foot-dragging surrounding the National Feedlot Corporation and the reluctance to investigate the Attorney-General Gani Patail over a box full of serious allegations, not to mention the settlement with Tajuddin Ramli.
8) He will have to talk about the government’s embarrassing use of taxpayers money to pay FBC Media and buy good publicity abroad.
9) He will have to talk about his half-baked apology for the past sins of Umno.
10) He will have to talk about Sodomy II.
A debate will be too onerous for Najib and that is why he will not share the stage with Anwar Ibrahim or anyone. That is the plain truth and it hurts.