Malaysia intolerant of dissent

(Reuters) – MALAYSIA arrested nearly 1,000 anti-government protestors in 2009, signalling ‘heightened intolerance’, an influential and independent human rights group said on Wednesday.

Political tensions rose in this South-east Asian country following record 2008 polls losses by the government now led by Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Tensions are still high and could rise further with the sodomy trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim resuming next month.

‘Because the Prime Minister sought to regain his losses in 2008, 2009 saw a huge crackdown on dissent and the opposition,’ said John Liu, a coordinator with SUARAM or Voice of the Malaysian People group.

Mr Najib took office in April last year pledging political and economic reforms to revive his coalition and woo foreign investments to the South-east Asian country.

The rise in political tensions and increasing competition from faster reforming regional neighbours like Indonesia have weighed on investor sentiment towards Malaysia where investment has languished.