Thursday, February 21, 2008


Malaysia’s three main opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance Party, Parti Islam SeMalaysia and Parti Keadilan Rakyat have agreed to cooperate with each other in the upcoming March 8th general election.

They have decided to field single candidates in most constituencies in Malaysia to avoid contesting with one another and to provide a viable alternative to the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

In an exclusive interview in Kuala Lumpur with former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from Parti Keadilan Rakyat, RSI’s Shereena Sajeed asked about the extent of the opposition’s preparations for the contest so far.

AI: We negotiated separately with PAS in the Malay heartland, with the DAP in the Chinese areas because we are able to at least engage with them. We have covered almost all seats except for one or two contentious ones with PAS. We’ve virtually resolved everything with the DAP except with Sabah and Sarawak which we hope to resolve by today.

In terms of Keadilan, which areas are you contesting and how many seats are you looking at?

AI: Keadilan is focused mainly on the mixed seats. We are a multi-religious, multi-racial party so therefore we cover the main middle ground. Although we do take a few predominantly Chinese majority seats and also Malay majority seats in the East Coast and the North. I can’t say for sure because discussions are still ongoing but I think we will exceed 70 seats, both in the Peninsular and the Sabah, Sarawak constituencies.

And what issues will Keadilan be focusing on?

AI: The main issue is governance and accountability. We’ve said that due to corruption, mismanagement and lack of leadership, the country has fallen in terms of competitiveness, foreign direct investments and the economy is of course faltering. We cite the example of Singapore, mainly because we started off as a country with relatively slight differences in economic standing. But Singapore has surpassed us in terms of per capita income by almost five times. There is something really wrong either with policy or governance and lack of accountability and massive corruption that has led to this state of affairs. MORE HERE

Anwar Ibrahim's party to lead opposition in general elections in Malaysia: Former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim's opposition party will contest about half of the 222 parliamentary seats in Malaysia's general elections in a bid to make a strong comeback after its stinging defeat in the last polls when it won only one seat. The People's Justice Party is looking to challenge the ruling coalition in about 100 parliamentary seats in the March 8 elections, though no final numbers have been announced yet, party general secretary Khalid Ibrahim said Thursday. He said the party expects to win at least 30 seats with the help of campaigning by Anwar

Malaysias opposition to contest every seat for first time: Malaysia's opposition parties will contest every seat in upcoming general elections for the first in the nation's history, the party of opposition figurehead Anwar Ibrahim said Thursday. The opposition parties are nearing an agreement to field just one candidate in each seat, avoiding the three-cornered fights that have hampered their chances against the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in previous polls.

Malaysian opposition aiming for seismic shift at the polls: As Malaysia heads for elections dominated by seething ethnic tensions, an invigorated opposition is hopeful of making unprecedented gains against the coalition that has ruled for half a century. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi scored a thumping victory in 2004, a year after taking over from long-time leader Mahathir Mohamad, but since then he has been criticised as weak and ineffective. His government has been rocked by a series of public protests -- unthinkable during Mahathir's era -- accusing the government of discriminating against Indians, electoral fraud and failing to cap rising prices of food and fuel. In the latest protests Saturday police fired teargas and water cannons to disperse ethnic Indians who had defied a ban and attempted to gather in Independence Square in downtown Kuala Lumpur to protest alleged discrimination. Support from Malaysia's ethnic Indian and Chinese minorities is thought to be melting away due to anger over the system of positive discrimination for Muslim Malays, who control government and dominate the population.

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