Sunday, 7 April 2013

Malaysia News:Malaysian PM Najib predicts victory at polls

Najib, who dissolved parliament Wednesday in preparation for a general election seen as the ruling coalition's toughest challenge after 56 years in power, has urged voters to give him a strong mandate to rule.
"We are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to win big, which means two-thirds majority (in parliament)," he said.
"We have to work hard towards it and we have to make sure we minimise all internal problems within the party," Najib said, in an apparent reference to factional struggles within his United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).
The vote is tipped to be the closest ever, driven by concerns over corruption, the rising cost of living and high crime under the Barisan Nasional coalition which has ruled Malaysia since independence in 1957.
Najib has worked hard to rebrand UMNO, which dominates the 13-member Barisan coalition, by launching a series of reforms to strengthen the economy and grant greater civil liberties.
"For four years we have fulfilled all our promises," he said after chairing an UMNO meeting.
Recently, ex-leader Mahathir Mohamad said Najib could face a ruling-party leadership putsch if he does not improve on a 2008 polls setback.
An election commission official said Thursday that the election regulator was expected to meet next week to decide on the polling date.
The vote must be held within two months from the date parliament is dissolved. Analysts speculate it would be in late April.
Najib is facing his first test at the ballot box since taking over in 2009 and is unionder pressure to recover from the coalition's shock 2008 election result, when it lost its traditional two-thirds parliamentary majority.
The resurgent opposition, led by charismatic former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, has gained traction by pledging to tackle authoritarianism and graft and is equally confident of victory.
The opposition currently holds 75 of 222 parliamentary seats and controls four of the country's 13 states.
Ambiga Sreenevasan, the co-chairman of electoral reform group Bersih, said the opposition had the odds stacked against it.
"No doubt the opposition goes into the race with a disadvantage. Please allow the opposition to have access to the media," she told reporters.
Currently the opposition does not have access to state media.
"I hope voters will come out in big numbers to dilute the discrepancies in the electoral roll," she added, referring to claims the list does not accurately represent the electorate.

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