Malaysian minister elected CPA chief, defeats Swraj Paul

August 9th, 2008 - 11:08 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Somnath Chatterjee

Kuala Lumpur, Aug 9 (IANS) Malaysian Culture Minister Shafie Apdal was Saturday elected chairman of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) executive committee, defeating India-born British peer Lord Swraj Paul by 50 votes. Apdal, who is also the minister for unity, arts and heritage, polled 152 votes while Lord Paul of Marylebone, a member of the British House of Lords, secured 102 votes, the official Malaysian news agency Bernama reported. One vote was declared ’spoilt’.

While Apdal was backed by the Indian delegation, Lord Paul was a nominee of Britain and Canada.

Reacting to his election as chairman of the executive committee of the CPA which has 15,000 members covering 177 branches, Apdal said: “It is an honour”.

Paul went and hugged the Malaysian minister after the results were announced.

“It was a good election,” said Paul, a Labour member of the House of Lords. “I pointed out what needs to be done by this CPA. The UK will support the new chairman to reach that aim,” he said.

Apdal is third parliamentarian from a Southeast Asian nation to head the CPA. He succeeds India’s Hashim Abdul Halim, the speaker of the West Bengal assembly, who has completed a three-year term.

Malaysia hosted the 54th CPA annual conference that was attended, among others, by Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

Pandikar Amin Mulia, speaker of Malaysia’s Dewan Rakyat (parliament) who hosted the conference, noted that Apdal had set “another milestone for Malaysia”.

Rejecting an allegation by the British delegation that India and Malaysia had colluded in the election, Mulia said he had yet to receive any official complaint in this regard.

“As the returning officer of the election, I feel candidates had their own way of campaigning and I have yet to receive any official complaint from any delegate,” he said.

He ruled out any irregularities in the election and said the polling was held in “a proper and fair manner”.

The conference, on the theme of Expanding the Role of Parliament in a Global Society: Environment, Development and Security, was participated in by about 800 MPs from 57 Commonwealth countries.

The next CPA conference will be held in Tanzania next year and in Kenya in 2010.

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