Monday, May 6, 2013

Najib calls for reconciliation

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak voting at SM Sains Sains Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah in Pekan yesterday.

BARISAN Nasional returned to power this morning and regained Kedah in a general election that produced a record voter turnout but also highlighted polarising trends.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has called for a national reconciliation after BN had, at press time, won 133 seats out of 220 declared, while DAP took its tally to 38 on the back of overwhelming Chinese support.

With the results of the remaining three seats in the 222-member Dewan Rakyat to be known today, BN will not achieve a two-thirds majority of 148 parliamentary seats.

The ruling coalition had won 140 parliamentary seats and lost five state governments in the 2008 general election.

Pas and PKR, allies of DAP in Pakatan, yesterday secured 21 and 28 seats.

"The people's decision showed polarising trends. If they are not addressed, they will cause conflicts in the nation," Najib said at the party headquarters.

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He said the election was free and fair, contrary to opposition claims, and said he hoped all quarters would accept the outcome with an open mind.

He said BN, which its proven track record, would fulfil all its election pledges.

As for the battle for the state governments, BN wrested Kedah from Pakatan, winning 21 of the 34 seats announced. There are 36 seats in the Kedah legislative assembly.

A son of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is destined to be the new menteri besar of Kedah.

Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, who has been named the coalition's candidate for menteri besar won the Ayer Hitam state seat. He was previously the member of parliament for Jerlun.

Elsewhere, BN survived a Pas-led onslaught in Terengganu, winning 17 of 32 seats declared. Pas, which last formed the state government in 1999, won 14 seats, and PKR one.

BN has also legitimised its rule in Perak. The state had a Pas-led Pakatan government for nine months after the March 2008 general election.

In Kelantan, BN increased its tally from six to 12.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha, from MCA, admitted defeat to PKR's First Admiral (Rtd) Mohd Imran Hamid for the Lumut parliamentary seat.

Some 10 million voters cast their votes yesterday, a record turnout of 80 per cent.

Among them was a woman born in 1899. Sariah Marjo, 114, was accompanied to the polling station in Pasir Panjang, near Port Dickson, by her nephew, Shari Sidar, 64.

Interviewed by the New Straits Times before the polls, she said she vaguely remembered not voting in one election but could not put her finger on which one she had missed.

She lives with her daughter, Chumi Kasmawi, 59. Sariah is a voter in the Linggit state seat and the Teluk Kemang parliamentary constituency.

Malaysians have now given Najib a mandate, his first since assuming office in April 2009, legitimising the transformation initiatives designed to achieve a high-income status for the nation.

Najib has since taking office unleashed sweeping economic, political and social reforms that have transformed the nation. The economy is buoyant (growing a 5.6 per cent last year), unemployment is very low and the stock market is at a record high.

Najib, leading BN into the election for the first time, easily retained his Pekan parliamentary seat, while his deputy, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, overwhelmed his rival to retain his Pagoh seat.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim retained his Permatang Pauh seat. Outgoing Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman lost in the battle for Gelang Patah and Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Mohd Ali Rustam lost in Bukit Katil.

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