Malaysian parties beat up last dash for election

March 7th, 2008 - 12:39 am ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, March 6 (Xinhua) Time is almost up as Saturday, the polling day of Malaysia’s 12th general election, is nearing and political parties in the country were Thursday seen stepping up their last dash towards the final victory. In recent days, more campaign posters and rallies have popped up around the country. Party leaders were seen busier in travelling from place to place to reinforce candidates of their parties. And words from the mouths of campaigners were more and more straight.

Even in the areas near the downtown landmark Twin Towers here, where almost no posters were spotted a few days ago, massive new flags, posters and banners appeared along or across the streets.

Newspapers and televisions are running more advertisements, in the languages of Malay, Chinese and Tamil, most in support of the country’s ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), or National Front, which has been administering the country for 50 years since its independence.

Malaysian Prime Minister and BN chairman Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has been travelling among several states and Kuala Lumpur, mainly in central, northern and northwestern Malaysia, to back up BN candidates and rapped the opposition parties, especially in northern states of Kedah and Terenggaru.

The price of fuel is one of the hottest issues debated between the ruling coalition and the opposition.

On Thursday, Badawi said in the state of Penang, where his constituency is located, that the government would ensure that if fuel prices are hiked, it would not burden the people.

During the election campaign drive, which started Feb 24, Badawi frequently rapped the promises made by the opposition parties to reduce the fuel price, saying that the country has to look at development and the opposition parties’ promises were irresponsible and empty words.

He also stressed that the BN government has always been dedicated to reduce the burden borne by people and will continue to closely monitor the price of essential goods.

On Wednesday, Badawi said in Penang that the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) would never accept the return of Anwar Ibrahim, who was former deputy prime minister and the leader of the opposition party the People’s Justice Party (PKR).

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was also seen travelling frequently in recent days, mainly in northern, northwestern, central and east coastal states to fight the opposition and gather support for the BN.

Najib, also BN’s deputy chairman, Thursday asked the opposition, especially the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS), to respect mosques as places of worship and not abuse them by twisting the Friday sermon in a last-ditch effort to campaign.

On the other hand, the opposition parties, especially the Democratic Action Party (DAP), the PAS and the PKR also did not sit idle over the past days. Their leaders were frequently seen giving speeches nationwide, even in rains, attracting quite a lot of audience.

Anwar Ibrahim even travelled to Singapore during the campaign period.

The flags and banners of the opposition, although not so many as those of the BN in number, also could be seen everywhere.

So far, the campaigning process in Malaysia has been going on in a generally peaceful atmosphere, despite some unexpected incidents.

Election Commission Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman Thursday found red paint splashed onto his house after the commission called off the scheduled use of the indelible ink on the polling day.

The EC has previously decided to use indelible ink on the finger or nail of the voters.

The police are stepping up their efforts to crack down on betting activities on the results of the election in certain areas after receiving reports on such activities.

Candidates from both ruling and opposition parties worried that such betting activities would make their destiny in the election more uncertain.

The BN held 199 seats of the 219-seat lower house of the 11th parliament, which was dissolved Feb 13. The ruling coalition also controlled almost all the state legislative assemblies in the country, except for the 45-seat Kelatan state assembly, which is controlled by the PAS with 23 seats.

BN leaders Thursday reiterated they were confident that the party would win the two-third majority as it did in the last general election in 2004.

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