Monday, March 10, 2008

Australian press terms Malaysian poll 'revolutionary'

Australian press terms Malaysian poll 'revolutionary'

Sydney - "This Malaysian election result is an earthquake in South-East Asian politics," The Australian newspaper said in an editorial Monday. "It is the most important and revolutionary election outcome in the region for many years, destroying the basic equation of Malaysian politics that has held since 1969 and in some manner since independence in 1957," the nation's largest-circulation daily said.

"It is very difficult to imagine that (Prime Minister) Abdullah can survive this setback."

Abdullah's ruling National Front coalition retained control of the government in Saturday's general election, but was denied a two-thirds majority of parliamentary seats.

The paper described former deputy prime minister and now opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim as "the most dynamic and charismatic politician in Malaysia" and said he would "present a huge challenge to the government."

The Australian said that in Anwar "the opposition has a figure who can appeal to Malays, both urban and rural, and yet reassure Chinese and Indians that he would not take any path of extremism."

The paper warned that it remained to be seen whether "Malaysia's newly empowered Islamists, especially in its rural north, give any comfort to Islamist separatists across the border in southern Thailand."

The paper concluded: "It will be critical to see how the government responds to its new dilemma, whether it seeks salvation in pursuing its own Islamist identity in competition with (the Islamist) PAS or whether it embraces political modernization and an anti-corruption campaign."

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