AS Malaysia’s long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition faces its toughest battle at the ballot booth on May 5, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said he was “cautiously optimistic” of being returned to power.
In an interview with The Straits Times, Najib said: “I am cautiously optimistic of a good result in the general election and our ability to form a strong and stable government.”
Najib’s Barisan, in power now for 55 years, is fighting a strong opposition that is running on the theme of change.
His remark stands in stark contrast to the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat’s confidence of scoring big in the country’s 13th general election.
In an e-mailed response to questions, Najib said: “Malaysia needs a government with experience and a track record that shows it can deliver on its pledges and handle unexpected challenges.”
In the 2008 election, the Barisan lost its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament, its worst performance since 1969. The opposition also won five of 13 states, one of which reverted to the Barisan following defections.
That precarious political position prompted Najib to embark on a series of reforms after he took over from his predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in April 2009.
His ambitious economic reform agenda cuts across 12 sectors and involves 150 massive projects promising total investments of US$444bil (RM1.35tril) and creating about 3.3 million new jobs between 2010 and 2020.
Indeed, economic reform is an overarching theme on both sides of the political divide in the election.
In courting the roughly 13.3 million voters, both the Barisan and Pakatan have pledged to improve Malaysians’ economic well-being and strengthen the economy.
About a quarter of the voters will be casting their votes for state and federal government seats for the first time.
JOM SAMBUNG BACA DISINI