Saturday, March 8, 2008

Hindraf effect: Malaysian ruling coalition suffers loss of 2/3 majority

Malaysia ruling coalition loses crucial 2/3 majority
Reuters
Published: March 09, 2008, 00:03


Kuala Lumpur: The Malaysian premier's multi-racial coalition lost its crucial two-thirds majority in parliament in general elections on Saturday, the Election Commission said on Sunday.

The coalition also lost control of three states - Kedah, Penang and Kelantan, the election body said.

The oppositiobn is claiming victory in five state assemblies including Selangor and Perak, while also capturing at least one-third of the seats in federal parliament.

A two-thirds majority is needed to amend the constitution. The last time it lost that majority was in the 1969 election.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's opposition threatened on Saturday hand the ruling coalition its biggest upset in 40 years by winning the northern industrial state of Penang, putting the prime minister's political future at risk.


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The multi-racial National Front coalition is almost certain to get a majority and form the government at the federal level, but it was as yet uncertain of retaining the two-thirds majority it has held for most of its five-decade-long rule.

"It's bad. They have lost Penang," a source close to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said just two and a half hours after polling booths closed at 0900GMT. "It's a perfect storm," he added. "Big guns are falling all over the place." The chief minister of Penang conceded defeat and said he would hand over power to the opposition, one of the state's opposition leaders said.

"He has contacted the governor. He respected the wishes of the people and hoped there are no untoward incidents," said Chow Kon Yeow, head of the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) in Penang, which was set to lead the new government in the state.

Works Minister Samy Vellu, chief of the Malaysian Indian Congress, one of the parties in the ruling National Front coalition, lost the seat he had held for nearly 30 years, because many Indians thought he was out of touch with their concerns.

Complaints

Chinese and Indians account for a third of the population of 26 million and many complain the government discriminates in favour of Malays when it comes to education, jobs, financial assistance and religious policy.

"This looks like a revolution," said Husam Musa, vice president of the Islamist opposition party PAS, which looked to be winning in northeastern Kelantan state. "The people have risen and are united. The message to government is, 'Enough is enough'," he told reporters.

About 70 per cent of Malaysia's 10.9 million eligible voters had cast ballots, the country's chief election official said. "What has happened is there were aspects of unhappiness everywhere - Indians, Chinese and Malays," the source said.

"All these storms came together and there's this massive swing. The only thing you can say now is that there will be a simple majority. It will be the biggest setback since 1969."

Race relations have become a big issue in a country that has long been proud of the racial harmony among its majority Muslim Malays, and ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.

Opposition rallies drew big crowds, especially Chinese and Indian voters unhappy with Badawi's Malay-dominated coalition. An early hint of the changing political winds was a police ban on victory processions. Malaysia's worst episode of racial violence in 1969 was sparked by such a parade.

The poll, called before it was due in May 2009, was widely seen as a referendum on Badawi's rule. But the electoral system was also on trial as opposition parties accused the multi-racial Barisan Nasional coalition of vote-rigging to continue its five-decade-long grip on power.

It's bad. They have lost Penang.It's a perfect storm. Big guns are falling all over the place."

Source close to PM

Kuala Lumpur (Reuters) A detained ethnic Indian activist won a seat in the Malaysian parliament yesterday, local media said, handing another sharp slap in the face to the national ruling coalition in general elections.

Lawyer M. Manoharan, one of five Hindu rights activists detained under internal security laws for organising a major anti-government protest last year, won his parliamentary seat outside the capital, pro-government newspaper the Star said in a text-message alert.

The five activists are being held in a detention centre in the country's north.

http://www.gulfnews.com/world/Malaysia/10195989.html

Malaysian Indian Party (MIC) Suffers heavy losses in elections due to Hinduraf Effect

End For Samy Vellu's Legacy After Historic Loss At Sg Siput
http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v3/news.php?id=319468
March 09, 2008 06:13 AM

By S. Retna

KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 (Bernama) -- March 8 was his birthday but what he did not bargain for was the unexpected birthday gift from "his" voters in Sungai Siput which had been his bastion since 1974.

The man in question is none other than MIC President Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who turned 72 yesterday, and was trounced resoundingly in the 12th general election.

He may not have seen it coming but for many, especially in the last few months, the writing had been on the wall.

The relationship between Samy Vellu and the constituency goes back a long way when he was picked to contest in 1974 as a young aspiring politician.

Sungai Siput became synonymous with Samy Vellu and it was his stronghold for there was a general notion that he could never be defeated there.

But the impossible did happen on his ninth attempt to stand in Sungai Siput when Dr D. Jeyakumar, contesting under the Parti Keadilan Rakyat ticket, coasted to victory on Samy's "special" day.

As if this was not enough, the entire MIC line-up formulated by the veteran politician for this election was nearly wiped out by the Opposition, including the party's deputy president and vice-presidents.

With the damming defeat, the MIC now becomes the only party, with its top leaders -- president, deputy president (Datuk G. Palanivel) and three-vice presidents (Datuk S. Sothinathan, Datuk S. Veerasingam and Tan Sri Dr K.S. Nijhar) -- will not have parliamentary seats to their names.

The MIC was allotted nine parliamentary and 19 state seats to contest. Only three MIC candidates won parliamentary seats while a mere seven won state seats.

MIC candidates who emerged victorious in the parliamentary seats were MIC information chief Datuk M. Saravanan (Tapah), S. K. Devamany (Cameron Highlands) and secretary-general Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam (Segamat).

The party's candidates were wiped out in Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor while the seven who managed to cling on were the four state assemblymen in Johor, one in Melaka, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang.

Political observers said MIC's dismal performance in this polls was to be expected as the "tell-tale" signs were there but were never noticed by party leaders.

It began when certain segments of the 1.8 million Indians unhappy with the way the party was addressing the woes of the community, sparked an uprising of some sorts by organising a street demonstration in Kuala Lumpur in November last year.

Despite the intense pressure, Samy Vellu vowed that he would make changes to the MIC line-up in this election. He did make changes but they were minimal. He brought in new faces only in Saravanan and S. Murugesan (who contested the Subang constituency and lost).

It is without doubt that the veteran leader, who was appointed as Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister in 1978 and subsequently Works Minister in 1979, has to leave the Cabinet, in which he was a member for many years.

Samy Vellu, who once worked as a bus conductor, office boy and a newscaster in RTM, climbed the party's ladder the hard way.

After becoming an MIC member in 1959 at the Batu Caves branch, he clawed his way up as the acting president in 1979 following the death of Tan Sri V. Manickavasagam, the then MIC president.

The eldest son of rubber tappers Sangilimuthu and Angammah, he took the helm of MIC in 1981. He has held on to that position despite facing strong challenge many a time.

After serving the community for nearly 30 years, the man, who as a kid, moved from estate to estate with his parents in search of employment, had a hard decision to make in the light of the current circumstances.

Will he step aside in the party or plod on, will he be made a senator and retain his works minister's portfolio, one time will tell.

-- BERNAMA

Malaysia ruling coalition suffers surprise upset
Sat Mar 8, 2008 9:29pm IST
By Mark Bendeich

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's opposition was set on Saturday to hand the ruling coalition its biggest upset ever, winning the northern industrial state of Penang and putting the prime minister's political future at risk.

The multi-racial National Front coalition was almost certain to get a majority and form the government at the federal level, but the two-thirds majority in parliament it has held for most of its five-decade-long rule was looking shaky in early returns.

"It's bad. They have lost Penang," a source close to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told Reuters just two and a half hours after polling booths closed at 0900 GMT. "It's a perfect storm," he added. "Big guns are falling all over the place."

The chief minister of Penang conceded defeat and said he would hand over power to the opposition, one of the state's opposition leaders said.

"He has contacted the governor. He respected the wishes of the people and hoped there are no untoward incidents," said Chow Kon Yeow, head of the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP), which was set to lead the new government in the state.

The surprise defeat for the ruling National Front coalition aroused memories of the last time it failed to win a two-thirds majority, in 1969, when deadly race riots erupted between majority ethnic Malays and minority Chinese.

Abdullah said he accepted defeat in some areas and urged people to remain calm, the Star newspaper reported.

Police officials vowed to use tough internal security laws against anyone spreading rumours of race riots, and banned victory processions after the results, one of which had triggered the violence in 1969.

The poll, called before it was due in May 2009, was widely seen as a referendum on Abdullah's rule, and Malaysians took the opportunity to administer a stinging rebuke over price rises, religious disputes and concerns over corruption.

Works Minister Samy Vellu, chief of the Malaysian Indian Congress, one of the parties in the ruling National Front coalition, lost the seat he had held for nearly 30 years, because many Indians thought he was out of touch with their concerns.

Another slap in the face for the government was a victory by detained ethnic Indian activist and lawyer M. Manoharan, who won a parliamentary seat, after being held under internal-security laws for organising a major anti-government protest last year.

Chinese and Indians account for a third of the population of 26 million and many complain the government discriminates in favour of Malays when it comes to education, jobs, financial assistance and religious policy.

"This looks like a revolution," said Husam Musa, vice president of the Islamist opposition party Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS), which looked to be winning in northeastern Kelantan state.

"The people have risen and are united. The message to government is, 'Enough is enough'", he told reporters.

The final result is unlikely to be clear until early on Sunday. About 70 percent of Malaysia's 10.9 million eligible voters had cast ballots, the country's chief election official said.

Race relations have become a big issue in a country that has long been proud of the racial harmony among its majority Muslim Malays, and ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.

Opposition rallies drew big crowds, especially Chinese and Indian voters unhappy with Abdullah's Malay-dominated coalition.

"Our victory is really impressive," opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim told reporters. "Unofficially, we have formed the state government in Penang, and we have made inroads in UMNO's stronghold. This clearly shows Malaysians want an alternative."

"Going forward Malays, Indians and Chinese all have to work together and make a formidable pact," he said.

Anwar's daughter, Nurul Izzah, won her maiden election foray winning a parliamentary seat in the capital, state news agency Bernama said in an unofficial result.

Barisan held 90 percent of the seats in the outgoing federal parliament. Political experts had predicted Abdullah's continued leadership could be in jeopardy if his majority fell back below 80 percent, or around 178 seats, in the new 222-seat parliament.

The economy has been growing at a 6 percent annual clip but inflation and a likely U.S. economic slowdown have sparked worries.

(Additional reporting by Mark Bendeich, Jalil Hamid and Liau Y-Sing)


http://in.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idINIndia-32369120080308

1 comment:

balan said...

Not sure if this ban make sense as HINDRAF is not a legal organisation in the first place.

As a moderate Indian Malaysian, I don’t agree or support HINDRAF (maybe one of the few Indian who do not support HINDRAF in Malaysia).

No, I’m not a BN Supporter. How many have actually read their memorandum, speeches or attended their gatherings?

The approach, writing and rhetorics incites hatred towards others. They are another organisation hiding behind race, religion, temples and schools. Most of their arguements are flimsy and does not make much sense.

For alternative views on HINDRAF, from a Indian Malaysian point of view, , please visit (AUg/Sept/Oct Archive)

http://balankumarpremakumaran.blogspot.com/