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Malaysia gov't seeks 'wind of change' in election

Malaysia gov't seeks 'wind of change' in election

Malaysia's ruling coalition hoped to regain support from the ethnic Malay Muslim majority during a special legislation election Tuesday in an opposition stronghold.
The result of the by-election to choose a lawmaker in the legislature of northern Penang state will not change the balance of power. But it is being closely watched for signs of whether voters are warming to the National Front governing coalition after Prime Minister Najib Razak took power in April.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's three-party alliance has won six of the seven by-elections over the past year, including one that the National Front declined to contest.
However, in the last by-election last month in an eastern Malaysian state, the opposition retained a state legislature seat with a sharply lower majority.
"There seems to be a wind of change in favor of us," Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said late Monday after wrapping up the National Front's campaigning.
Najib took power more than a year after the National Front suffered its worst-ever results in March 2008 general elections. Anwar's alliance won more than one-third of Parliament's seats and wrested control of several key states including Penang.
Government leaders have vigorously accused Anwar in recent months of being a traitor to Malays, saying he has let his ethnic Chinese and Indian minority allies dictate policies that undermine Malay economic and religious rights.
About 72 percent of the 20,290 voters in Permatang Pasir, a state district in Anwar's parliamentary constituency, are Malays. The by-election came after the incumbent from the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, which won the seat last year with a 5,433-vote majority, died of a heart attack.
Mahfuz Omar, an Islamic party leader, said the opposition expects to secure a convincing victory. Its campaign has attacked the integrity of the National Front's candidate, a lawyer who was disbarred last year over allegations that his firm failed to refund a client's money. The National Front insists its candidate was not personally liable.
The Election Commission said about 5,800 people had cast ballots within the first two hours of the nine-hour voting period.


Updated : 2021-05-13 09:17 GMT+08:00