Voters go to polls in Malaysia by-election

Voters went to the polls in Malaysia Sunday in a parliamentary by-election seen as a test for the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition's reform programme.

Voters go to polls in Malaysia by-election

Voters went to the polls in Malaysia Sunday in a parliamentary by-election seen as a test for the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition's reform programme.

Vehicles crawled along roads to the rural enclave of Hulu Selangor in opposition-controlled Selangor state in central Malaysia as the government bussed in flag-waving supporters. By 3 p.m. (0700GMT), turnout was 63.74 percent.

"The National Front (government's) key performance indicator for this seat is (a majority of) 6,000," Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin told a press conference.

Watched by about 1,000 police, a pro-governemnt crowd faced off against supporters of Anwar Ibrahim's opposition alliance at polling stations in the marginal parliamentary constituency that fell vacant after an opposition lawmaker died.

State police chief Khalid Abu Bakar told Reuters 10 people had been arrested after minor scuffles.

For Anwar, a defeat would add to a string of setbacks that have seen a series of party defections.

Although the election will not affect that balance of power, the government is keen to retake the seat in Selangor state that abuts the capital Kuala Lumpur and is Malaysia's richest.

The premier's first year in office has been marked by strained public finances and delays in fuel subsidy reforms and a goods and services tax due to fears of a voter backlash.

The National Front has lost seven out of nine by-elections after its worst performance in national polls in 2008. Mounting political tensions have dented investment. Outflows hit $61 billion in 2008 and 2009, official data showed.

Winning the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat is crucial for the opposition, which needs to show it remains a serious contender to wrest power in the next elections. Anwar needs to boost his standing after the recent defections of four MPs.


Agencies

Last Mod: 25 Nisan 2010, 12:49
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