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Malaysia's government hangs onto power

May 6, 2013 at 12:05 AM   |   Comments

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, May 6 (UPI) -- Malaysia's re-elected Prime Minister Najib Razak said his government will embark on a national reconciliation program after polling results showed voting along racial lines.

Razak, whose Barisan Nasional -- National Front -- party won 133 of the 222 seats in Parliament, said there were "very unhealthy sentiments," some racial, expressed during the election, a report by Malaysia's national news agency Bernama said.

Razak, 59, said his party will focus on moderate and accommodating policies for the entire country and will reject racist and religious extremism.

"We want the people to realize that for the sake of the country, moderate policies should be accepted as our national policy," Razak told a news conference after the Election Commission announced BN had secured a simple majority in the weekend polling.

BN is a loose coalition of more than 13 small and regional political parties that was formed in 1973.

It was the party's 13th consecutive general election victory since Malaysia gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1957.

Throughout its 56 years in power, BN has held as much as 90 percent of parliamentary seats in the country of 28 million people with Islamic, Chinese, Indian and Western cultures.

But the latest election result was much lower than the two-thirds of Parliamentary seats for which BN officials were aiming, Bernama said.

Of particular concern was the defeat of incumbent BN candidate Abdul Ghani Othman in the Gelang Patah Parliamentary seat in Johor state to a candidate from one of the smaller opposition parties, Democratic Action.

Lim Kit Siang of the secular social democratic DAP was elected because of a "Chinese tsunami" Razak reportedly said.

The DAP along with the People's Justice Party and Pan-Malaysian Islamic party make up the main opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat -- People's Alliance -- led by Anwar Ibrahim, 65.

Lim's win by 17,000 votes against Othman is a huge symbolic victory for the DAP, a report by The Straits Times newspaper said.

The election victory also was a personal one Lim, 72, who had announced in recent days that he would end nearly 50 years in politics if he lost.

Othman, 66, also had been governing Johor state, one of Malaysia's most developed regions and next to Singapore, for 18 years.

Lim's rallies in the constituency, which is 52 percent Chinese and 34 percent Malay, drew record crowds, the Singapore Times report said.

Despite winning a majority of seats, BN appeared to lose the race for popular votes, a report by the Malaysian news website Malaysian Insider said.

BN pulled 5.2 million votes to Pakatan Rakyat's nearly 5.5 million, based on calculations by The Malaysian Insider.

In the 2008 election, BN polled nearly 4.1 million votes against 3.8 million for Pakatan Rakyat.

But the Election Commission hadn't released official popular vote information by the time Malaysian Insider said it had made its own calculations.

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