Sunday, May 12, 2013

Malaysian opposition pushes for 'peaceful' protests

Updated Sat May 11, 2013 1:05am AEST

A senior member of the Malaysian Opposition says political gatherings planned for this month to dispute the outcome of Sunday's election must remain peaceful.
The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance won a majority of the popular vote but still lost to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, which secured 133 of parliament's 222 seats.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has accused the ruling party of widespread electoral fraud, including tampering of ballot boxes, suspected foreigners being drafted in to vote, and supposedly indelible ink which easily washed off.
On Wednesday Mr Anwar rallied at least 40,000 supporters to a sports stadium in Kuala Lumpur to demand more electoral transparency.
He says the Opposition will continue its nationwide campaign to challenge BN's victory and reform the country's electoral system.
The protests could be the most provocative challenge to the Malaysian Government in years, although any move to overturn the result appears unlikely to succeed.
Lim Kit Siang, a senior leader from DAP, one of three parties in the Opposition coalition, has told Radio Australia's Asia Pacific that media reports of a "wave of protests" are erroneous.
"We definitely do not want an 'Arab spring' in the sense of having national incidents and all that," he said.
"We want to continue to have peaceful and orderly process, where there can be public meetings to explain to the people the latest political developments in the country, including the electoral fraud."
Mr Lim caused a political upset in the May 5 polls by winning a seat in Johor state against the incumbent chief minister.
We definitely do not want an 'Arab spring' in the sense of having national incidents.
Lim Kit Siang, MP for Gelang Patah and senior member of the opposition Democratic Action Party
He says the Opposition is studying allegations of fraud in more than 20 constituencies.
"Our team of advisers are looking into it. They're looking at studying the constituencies involved - some 20 to 30 of them - and we are awaiting a report.
"If these constituencies are found to be results which are not credible, then of course it will mean that there's a possibility that the prime minister will not have his majority."
Two independent think tanks, appointed by Malaysia's Election Commission to monitor the general election, have concluded that the vote was only "partially free and not fair".
The Kuala Lumpur-based Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) and the Centre for Public Policy Studies released a joint report on Wednesday, saying there were "serious flaws" in the vote.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has rejected the allegations of fraud, and maintains the elections were free and fair.
~ ABC/AFP/Reuters

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