KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 (Xinhua) — The 10th election of Sarawak state in east Malaysia kicked off Saturday morning, drawing the attention of all Malaysians to the political arena.
All 71 constituencies are being hotly contested by over 210 candidates, with three- or multi-lateral fights seen in at least 35 battle fields.
This is the first state election after the 12th general election in March 2008, when the Barisan Nasional (BN), the federal ruling coalition, lost its two-thirds majority in the Malaysian Parliament for first time since independence.
Political observers have speculated that should BN retain power in the Sarawak state with landslide victory, the 13th national polls may be brought forward although one is not due until 2013.
Since the last general election, 16 by-elections have been held in Malaysia due to the deaths or resignations of the incumbent lawmakers.
Of the 16, the BN won eight, with the recent ones indicating that the BN had regained the support from voters of ethnic Chinese and Indian, who were said to have abandoned the coalition for marginalizing them.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin and several other cabinet ministers have been lobbying for support in the state.
A number of allocations have also been announced to improve living standards and enhance infrastructure in the largest state of Malaysia.
Sarawak State Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, who has helmed the state since 1981, said recently that he would step down within two years, paving the way for young leaders to run the state government.
Political analysts also see this as a response to the criticism of the opposition that Taib has no intention to leave office.
The election results are expected to be announced by 11 pm Saturday.
Sumber : Xinhua