Najib Rajak sworn-in as Malaysia's PM, opposition cries foul



Kuala Lumpur: Najib Razak was on Monday sworn-in as Malaysia's prime minister for a second time, a day after his ruling coalition, one of the world's longest-serving, swept to power in general elections slammed as "fraudulent" by the opposition.

59-year-old Najib took the oath before King Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam at Istana Negara palace, urging all Malaysians to accept his coalition's victory.

"We have to show to the world that we are a mature democracy. Despite the extent of the swing against us, we did not fall," he said in a nationally televised news conference.

Barisan Nasional (BN) won the general elections yesterday by a simple majority of 133 parliamentary seats, two less than the seats it held before, to opposition alliances' 89 in the 222-seat Parliament.

Sunday's vote saw a record turnout of eighty per cent.

The ruling coalition won the elections to continue its uninterrupted 56-year rule, brushing aside the challenge posed by the three-party opposition alliance led by Anwar Ibrahim.

Ibrahim, 65, a former deputy prime minister, said in a statement today that he would not accept the result because it was marred by "unprecedented" electoral fraud.

Anwar said, "The Election Commission must answer to the allegations on electoral fraud."

"My decision stands. I do not think it is fair to expect me to make a decision primarily based on an election that we consider fraudulent," Anwar said.

He has called for a rally in the capital Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Calling the Commission a failure, Anwar, who retained his Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat, said he suspected something was amiss with the early voting and postal voting process.

"The ballots were overwhelmingly in support of BN, which is not the norm with the current voting pattern", he alleged.

Anwar also cited instances of irregularities in the voting process, like advance and postal votes, the presence of foreigners in the electoral roll and delays by the Election Commission in announcing results in certain key areas.

Anwar said Pakatan would challenge the results of seats in which its candidates lost by thin margins of 1,000 to 2,000 votes.

Local NGO Bersih 2.0, which has been demanding electoral reforms, has also refused to recognise the newly-elected government, until reports of irregularities and violations in the election process are addressed.

The observer group Pemantau had found numerous instances of fraud, phantom voters and other irregularities during the casting and counting of ballots, Bersih co-chair Ambiga Sreenevasan told reporters.

"Hence, we are questioning the legitimacy of some of the results during the general elections and are withholding our recognition of the government until the reports are addressed," she said.

Meanwhile, Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders hoped the opposition would accept the results of the general election and that the public would respect the longstanding democratic practice in the country.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Noh Omar said that the election results showed that the country was peaceful and practiced democracy in the best way possible.

Malay ruling UMNO party Youth head Khairy Jamaluddin said although BN did not secure a two-thirds majority, the win would still enable BN to rule comfortably for the next five years.

Umno Women's wing chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said she would lead and bring women together towards national reconciliation as suggested by Prime Minister Najib to reunite all the communities.

"We have seen the trend of extremism brought by the opposition and this is worrying," she said.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), which supported the BN, won four seats in the just-concluded polls.

MIC, the largest ethnic Indian political party and a major component of the ruling coalition, contested in nine parliamentary seats and won four, one better than their performance in 2008 elections.

PTI