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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-314320 Malaysia Elections (L)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=03/21/04

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=MALAYSIA ELECTIONS (L)

NUMBER=2-314320

BYLINE=SCOTT BOBB

DATELINE=KUALA LUMPUR

///// POLLS CLOSE AT 5 P.M. LOCAL TIME, 0900 UTC, OR 4 A.M. WASH TIME. WATCH FOR UPDATES. /////

INTRO: Voters in Malaysia are going (went) to the polls to choose a new parliament and 12 state assemblies. Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's ruling United Malays National Organization is hoping for a major victory before party elections later this year, while the opposition Islamic Party is predicting gains in the northern ethnic-Malay heartland. Correspondent Scott Bobb in Kuala Lumpur talked to people about the election and what they want from the new government.

TEXT: Voters turned out early and in large numbers. Although the snap election was announced less than three-weeks ago, and the campaign period lasted only one week, voters were positive about the process.

In the working-class district of Lembah Pantai south of the capital, a retired school teacher, Mrs. S. Narasimha, says it was a good campaign.

/// NARASIMHA ACT ///

The way the campaign went about, I feel that every person in the country has been very motivated to come in early and vote.

/// END ACT ///

For many, the election represented a vote of confidence for Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, who took over four-months ago when Mahathir Mohamad retired after 22 years in power.

A maintenance technician in his late forties, Kong Mee Chuan, says Mr. Abdullah inspired him to vote for the first time ever.

/// KONG ACT ///

This Abdullah Badawi, he is very clean. He is very efficient. And I think he is a very capable man.

/// END ACT ///

/// BEGIN OPT /// Another school teacher, Mrs. Seethe, likes the new prime minister's pledge to fight corruption.

/// OPT SENTHE ACT ///

I think they are on the right line. Now we are cleaning up the house. So I think we are in the right direction.

///END ACT // END OPT ///

Haji Noh Bin Nordin, a civil servant in his late 50s, believes the top priority is to improve public administration.

/// HAJI NOH BIN NORDIN IN MALAY ///

He says he hopes that better governance will bring greater prosperity to Malaysia.

/// BEGIN OPT /// An electronic technician named Muhamad Nasri, who is voting in the middle-class district of Sentul, agrees.

/// OPT NASRI ACT ///

Services, government services to the Malaysian people, that is what we look for.

/// END ACT // END OPT ///

Taxi driver Lim Ahta, however, openly opposes the current government. He does not like the Internal Security Act, a law dating back to the colonial era that allows virtually unlimited detention without trial.

/// LIM LANGUAGE ACT, FADES ///

Mr. Lim says the law is bad because it allows authorities to detain people without due legal process.

/// BEGIN OPT /// Commodity exporter Ivan Ting warns, however, against extremism in a country where ethnic Malay Muslims make up the majority of the population, but where more than one-fourth of the population is non-Muslim, Chinese and Indians.

/// TING ACT ///

I feel that for the country to progress, extremism has to be out. I felt that we need to practice a very moderate kind of thinking.

///END ACT // END OPT ///

Syah Rul is a hotel receptionist with a young family. He is voting for the first time.

/// SYAH ACT ///

I do not care about the promises as ... (long) as the country is stable. Because I got children, so I think about the future. I want my children to be successful and to be living in a harmony (harmonious) country.

/// END ACT ///

Vote tabulation begins as soon as the polls close and the election commission has promised preliminary results by Monday. (SIGNED)

NEB/HK/SB/KBK/RAE



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