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Malaysia's ruling coalition defeats Anwar's party in by-election

Malaysia's ruling coalition defeats Anwar's party in by-election

Malaysia's ruling coalition trounced opposition politician Anwar Ibrahim's party in a bitterly fought by-election seen as a test of support for both sides ahead of national polls expected early next year.
The result Saturday was a blow to Anwar, who was seeking to revive his political career after being sacked from the government nine years ago.
Anwar immediately denounced the result, alleging fraud in the voting process and irregularities in the electoral roll.
"I am sad for Malaysia. I've been talking about fraudulent process all this while, but I didn't think it was going to be so bad ... the intimidation, the blatant bribery and the whole conduct of the election today," he said in a telephone interview from Kuala Lumpur.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's National Front won with a 1,850-vote majority to retain the Ijok legislative seat in central Selangor state, defeating Khalid Ibrahim from Anwar's People's Justice Party, the Election Commission said.
This was higher than the 1,649-majority vote the coalition obtained in 2004 polls.
The coalition's candidate, K. Parthiban, secured 58.6 percent of 10,049 votes cast, while Khalid obtained 4,034 votes and another 134 ballots were spoiled, the commission said.
Nearly 82 percent of voters cast their ballot, the highest ever in a by-election, it said.
"It was very fiercely fought, but at the end of the day, we prevailed. It's a good precursor for the next general election," said Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The local poll has been closely watched for early indications of support ahead of national polls, which are not due till 2009 but are widely expected to be called by late this year or early in 2008.
The Justice Party boycotted the announcement of the results. Anwar, who is adviser to the party, said they would lodge an official protest against the election process.
He said it was impossible to have such a high turnout, because only 50 percent of voters in some areas had cast their ballots just two hours before polling ended. The Election Commission had even asked the party for a 30-minute extension of polling, but the party had disagreed, he said.
Anwar, who was leading the opposition campaign for the first time since he was freed from jail in 2004, said the defeat would not hurt his political comeback.
"It's a very good turning point and I was able to articulate our views, but we are dealing with a very dirty process," he said.
Once seen as future prime minister, Anwar was fired from the Cabinet in 1998 by then-leader Mahathir Mohamad on allegations of misconduct.
Anwar was tried and convicted of corruption and sodomy and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was freed in 2004 after Malaysia's top court overturned the sodomy conviction. Anwar has said the charges were fabricated.


Updated : 2020-12-04 23:22 GMT+08:00