As a stream of corruption allegations against Najib’s government dents its image and the economy slumbers, it is unlikely public opinion will turn his way anytime soon, writes Anil Netto.
Malaysia’s ruling coalition is having second thoughts about holding an early snap general election. The problem for Prime Minister Najib Razak and his United Malays Nasional Organization (UMNO)-led administration, however, is that time is running short to win a pre-emptive electoral advantage before the current five-year parliamentary term expires in April 2013.
Speculation about snap elections has intensified as parties led by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People’s Justice Party) begin to fancy their chances of wresting power from UMNO and the Barisan Nasional coalition for the first time since independence.
A steady stream of corruption allegations against Najib’s government has dented its public image and, amid economic weakness, has raised popular concern that the country cannot sustain the endemic official hemorrhage. Earlier vows by Najib to repeal, reform or replace some of the country’s more anti-democratic laws, meanwhile, have failed to give Umno any popular momentum as officials have maintained heavy-handed tactics against political dissent.