23 April, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 11/13/2007 17:10
MALAYSIA
Tensions in Malaysia as elections approach
Elections are scheduled for April 2008 but the atmosphere is tense. The outgoing Badawi administration is facing challenges and widespread dissatisfaction. The largest mass rally held in the last ten years was held on Saturday; protesters demanded electoral reform and the king’s commitment to protect the constitution.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) – The Malaysian government is facing one of its most critical moments of the last ten years as it prepares for the 2008 general elections.  Civil society groups, ethnic minorities and the opposition in parliament are united in their demands for electoral reform and greater royal intervention to guarantee justice against the authoritarianism of current Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi.

The reality of the widespread dissatisfaction was brought home on Saturday when, according to organisers, 40,000 protesters took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur. The authorities ended up banning the mass gathering, and police used tear gas and water canons to disperse the crowd. Some 245 people were arrested but were eventually released after posting bail. The police intervention was however criticised in many quarters, including the Catholic community.

Anwar Ibrahim, a former Prime Minister and People’s Justice Party founder and now opposition leader, led the marchers. When he was sacked in 1998 popular protests followed.

The march was sponsored by the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih or transparency in Bahasa Malaysia), an alliance of five political parties and 29 social groups.

The demonstrators handed a petition to Malaysia’s king asking for reforms to bring greater transparency to next general elections.

The petition urged the monarch to refuse under the powers vested in him by the Federal Constitution to agree to the dissolution of parliament until the completion of a comprehensive scrutiny of the electoral rolls.

It also asked that the Election Commission be directed to abolish postal voting except for diplomats and Malaysian citizens residing abroad, to ensure equal access to the media to all parties contesting the general elections, and to strike the names of phantom voters from electoral rolls.

Saturday’s rally is but the latest challenge to the Badawi government, which has come under fire for failing in its fight against corruption and for encouraging discriminatory policies vis-à-vis the country’s Chinese and Indian minorities in favour of the Malay majority.

Analysts are convinced that the prime minister’s party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), is not likely to take 90 per cent of the seats in parliament as it did in 2004.

According to Fr Lawrence Andrew, from the Catholic weekly Herald, the Bersih march shows the political and social cracks in the country’s model, highlighting how some people get preferential treatment because they are on the right side of the political divide compared to those who just stand for rights in general.

For him these initiatives are fundamental in safeguarding the supremacy of the country’s constitution, which is threatened by personal interests and Islamic law.


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
07/16/2008 MALAYSIA
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim again under arrest
09/02/2004 MALAYSIA
Anwar Ibrahim set free
12/17/2010 MALAYSIA
Kuala Lumpur: Government suspends opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim
by Jeremy Lim
07/17/2008 MALAYSIA
Anwar Ibrahim released, but sodomy charges stand
06/30/2008 MALAYSIA
Anwar Ibrahim, accused of sodomy, fears for his life and political career

Editor's choices
ITALY - ASIA
Easter, victory over death and impotence
by Bernardo Cervellera
SYRIA
I will miss you Fr Frans, you inspired us all, says Syrian Jesuit
by Tony Homsy*A young priest from the Society of Jesus remembers the life and work of Fr Frans van der Lugt, who was killed in Homs after he refused to abandon residents beleaguered by hunger and war. "He gave and continues to give everything for the Church, Syria, and peace. His story and qualities made him an exceptional missionary and witness to the Gospel." Reprinted courtesy of 'The Jesuit Post'.
FRANCE - IRAQ
Chaldean Patriarch on the uncertain future of eastern Christians, a bridge between the West and Islam
by Mar Louis Raphael I SakoThe wars in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan have made things worse for their peoples, especially minorities. As Western policies have been a failure, fundamentalism has grown with the Arab Spring losing out to extremism. Muslim authorities have a role in protecting rights and religious freedom. The presence of Christians in the Middle East is crucial for Muslims.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.