Malaysia defends poll set-up as free and fair after opposition rally
KUALA LUMPUR (AP) - Malaysia's government defended the country's electoral system as free and fair after a massive opposition rally demanded further transparency in general elections due in months.
About 45,000 people joined the rally on Saturday by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's three-party alliance in a downtown Kuala Lumpur stadium ahead of elections that must be held by June. The polls are seen a major test for Prime Minister Najib Razak's ruling coalition after its dismal performance in 2008 polls.
The National Front coalition, which has governed Malaysia since independence from Britain in 1957, lost more than a third of its seats in Parliament to a resurgent opposition in 2008 amid public discontent over problems such as corruption and racial discrimination.
A government statement late Saturday said the Elections Commission has taken huge strides to ensure free and fair polls, including using indelible ink for the first time to prevent voter fraud and allowing Malaysians living overseas to cast a postal vote.