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Mar 9, 2008

Malaysian opposition pulls off election coup

By South East Asia correspondent Karen Percy
Opposition makes gains in Malaysian election

Opposition makes gains in Malaysian election

Malaysia's opposition parties have pulled off a historic election performance, posing the first challenge to the ruling Government in five decades.

At the last election Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi won 90 per cent of seats, but now he has lost a crucial two-thirds majority, which means he will need opposition cooperation to make constitutional changes.

At last count, the opposition had a record 82 seats of the 222 seats in the national parliament - with several seats still to be determined.

Mr Abdullah will stay in office, but for the first time since independence in 1957 there will be a sizeable opposition in Parliament.

Mr Adbullah says he will accept the results and has appealed for calm, saying he will not resign.

The opposition parties were brought together by former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, who is currently banned from politics because of a corruption conviction.

His eldest daughter Nurul Izza Anwar ousted a sitting minister in an inner-city seat in the capital, while his wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail maintained her seat in Penang.

Mr Anwar says the election results are a big success for the opposition and he has called this a defining moment in Malaysia's history.

"It is reassuring because Malaysians want reform, democracy and a new economic agenda," he said.

"Given the scenario that we have, [and] the limitations that we have, [like] no access to the media, this is phenomenal."


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