In Malaysia, five million voters are preparing to go to the polls in the general election on Saturday (8 July).
In Malaysia, five million voters are preparing to go to the polls in the general election on Saturday (8 July). The ruling national Front Party is confident of an easy victory, but campaigning by all the parties involved has been fervent. The government has imposed certain restrictions on electioneering in an attempt to avoid the violent disturbances which have marked elections in the past.
SYNOPSIS: In the Malay capital, Kuala Lumpur, campaigning has been limited to street leafleting and house-to-house canvassing. The coalition government under Prime Minister datuk Hussein Onn has banned all political rallied until after the election. Mr. Hussein said this was necessary because the outlawed Malay communist Party reportedly intended to disrupt campaigning to celebrate its 30th anniversary in June.
The two major issues of communism and race dominate Malay politics. In 1948, Malay communists launched a rebellion which was finally defeated after 12 years of guerrilla warfare. But sporadic fighting still continues and in the last month, seven members of the security forces and one communist guerrilla have been killed in clashes. The threat of further widespread unrest from Communist insurgents is coupled with fears that Malay racial tension might increases. Of a population of 12-and-a-half million, over 50 per cent are Malays' 37 per cent are Chinese and almost 37 per cent are Chinese and almost all the remainder are Indians. After the general election in May 1969, ever 500 people were killed in race riots.
Although the Malays form a majority and control the country's political institutions, the Chinese run the economy. The ruling National Front Party, dominated by Prime Minister Hussein's United Malay National Organisation (UMNO), was formed in 1957 by a merger of Malay, Chinese and Indian groups. The main opposition, the Chinese Democratic Action Party, claims the National Front cannot fulfil its election promise of representing the interests of all Malays, without automatically harming one or both of the minority groups.