Najib pledges clean, fair election

His appearance on the talk show before ethnic Chinese audiences was part of his intensified efforts to win them over. 

(Xinhua) – Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak vowed to hold a clean and fair election as he intensifies efforts to win back voters lost to the opposition ahead of looming polls.

“I”d like to repeat it once more that we will not want to be elected on the basis that we have rigged the elections or manipulated the elections. We want the people to show their support in a fair and clean manner… we have no qualms and no differences as far as objectivity is concerned,” he said at a late night Mandarin talk show on Malaysia”s ntv7 ahead of widely speculated election within months.

His comment came days after activist groups who drew tens of thousands in a mass rally last July announced plans to hold a fresh protest at the end of this month against what they called the government”s lack of commitment in pushing for electoral reform.

The planned protest came on the heels of the parliament’s endorsement of a list of reform recommendations to improve the electoral system, which opposition and the activists said, hadn’t gone far enough to address the “fundamental issues” like fraud.

He did not say when he would call the election, which is due before the end of the parliamentary mandate in March, but he hinted that he would “decide on the most opportune time when the public is warming up towards us”.

Najib came into office in a turbulent year for the governing coalition Barisan Nasional when it dealt the worst blow in history by losing five states to the opposition Pakatan Rakyat, and a two-third parliamentary majority in the 2008 election.

The coalition scored the lowest among Malaysian Chinese — the second largest ethnic group in the multiracial country”s 28 million population who swung heavily to the opposition in that election.

Analysts said many of them felt discriminated by the ethnic Malay Muslim-dominant government.

Enticing the Chinese voters

Najib’s appearance on the talk show before ethnic Chinese audiences was part of his intensified efforts to win them over.

He was on a Mandarin radio show last month addressing issues concerning the ethnic Chinese, which makes up about 26 percent of the majority-Malay population.

On Monday night, he reminded people of the large amount of funds and reserved lands that the government had given to the Chinese vernacular schools, stressing that “the Chinese schools are an integral part of our national education system”.

He also pledged to continue with implementing policies benefiting all races and reminded the audience of the reforms he introduced, such as the transformation programme that aimed at developing Malaysia into a high income country by 2020.

His popularity jumped 10 percent to 69 percent from August last year, according to a survey by independent opinion research firm, Merdeka Centre.

“Reform will take time, Rome is not built in a day,” he said.

“The journey has already begun. We have accomplished much within the last three years, I can assure you if we are given a mandate for the next five years we will reform,” he added.