Malaysia PM records worst electoral result

Malaysia PM records worst electoral result

Malaysia PM records worst electoral result

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (C) is greeted by his supporters after winning the elections at his party headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. REUTERS photo

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak may have to step down by the end of the year, ruling party sources said today, after his coalition extended its 56-year rule but recorded its worst-ever election performance.

Najib, 59, had staked his political future on strengthening the ruling coalition’s majority in Parliament in the general election on the back of a robust economy, reforms to roll back race-based policies and a $2.6 billion deluge of social handouts to poor families. But he was left vulnerable to party dissidents after his Barisan Nasional won only 133 seats in the 222-member Parliament, seven short of its tally in 2008 and well below the two-thirds majority it was aiming for.

It also lost the popular vote for the first time in 44 years, underlining opposition complaints that the electoral system is stacked against it. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s People’s Alliance won 89 seats, up 7 from 2008 but well short of unseating one of the world’s longest-serving governments.

Difficult task ahead

Undermined by the result, Najib now faces a difficult task persuading his dominant United Malays National Organization (UMNO) to press ahead with economic reforms and phase out policies favouring majority ethnic Malays over other races. “We could see Najib step down by the end of this year,” said a senior official in UMNO, which leads the coalition. “He may put up a fight, we don’t know, but he has definitely performed worse,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

For Anwar, his three-party opposition alliance had been optimistic of a historic victory, buoyed by huge crowds at recent rallies, but faced formidable obstacles including the government’s control of mainstream media and a skewed electoral system.