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Countdown to Kuala Lumpur polls begins

Published on Apr 3, 2013 11:42 AM
 
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak addresses the nation during a live telecast for the National Transformation Programme Annual Report in Kuala Lumpur on March 19, 2013. Mr Najib said in a live broadcast on television that the 12th Parliament has been dissolved, with the assent of the King, Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia has dissolved its Parliament on Wednesday, paving the way for the 13th general election that will be the hardest-fought in its history with both the ruling and opposition coalitions in a tight race.

Announcing this long-awaited event, Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a live broadcast on television that the 12th Parliament has been dissolved, with the assent of the King, Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah.

The dissolution took place just under a month before the federal ruling coalition Barisan Nasional's mandate comes to an end on April 28. Wednesday marks the fourth anniversary of Mr Najib's tenure as prime minister since 2009.

"The King has given his consent for Parliament to be dissolved, with effect from today," he said. "I advise other state leaders to also seek assent to dissolve their state assemblies respectively so that they can hold simultaneous polls."

The Negeri Sembilan assembly had already automatically dissolved on March 28, and the other seven state assemblies controlled by the BN are also likely to be dissolved Wednesday, except for Sarawak which held its state polls in April 2011.

The four states controlled by the federal opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat have yet to announce their decision, but are expected to dissolve as well.

Analysts have predicted that it will be a close election with Mr Najib fighting hard to secure a strong mandate for the BN against a resurgent opposition Pakatan Rakyat.

The PR had made tremendous gains in the 2008 general election, winning more than one-third of the Parliamentary seats and control of five states.

The BN now holds 136 seats to the PR's 76. There are 10 independents.

There are 222 parliamentary seats up for grabs, the same as in 2008, and 505 state seats. More than 13.3 million people are eligible to vote, a huge increase from the 10.5 million in 2008. About half the voters are below 40.

carolynh@sph.com.sg

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