Malaysian ruling coalition retains 56-yr hold on power

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia's ruling coalition on Sunday retained its 56-year hold on power by winning a simple majority of 129 seats in the 222-seat Parliament in a knife-edge election.

The Election Commission chairman Tan Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof announced that ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition led by Najib Razak has taken a simple majority with 129 seats, 17 more than the threshold required to form a government.

The opposition alliance led by Anwar Ibrahim Pakatan Rakyat won 77 seats.

Najib won his parliamentary seat from Pekan. The opposition alliance, which many had thought could edge out the ruling coalition, concede defeat.

Prime Minister Najib was under pressure to improve on the coalition's worst-ever result, recorded at the last election in 2008 when it won 140 seats and lost its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority.

Najib vowed that his government will embark on a national reconciliation process to heal the racial and political divisions after the election.

"We (BN) are still trying to absorb the results, but we will be looking forward to reject political and racial extremism, and work towards a more moderate and accommodating environment," he said after the Election Commission confirmed BN's victory on Sunday night.

Anwar and his daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar of opposition PKR party were among the winners in the country's 13th general elections. The opposition also retained economically important Penang state.

Earlier, Malaysians voted in record numbers in the general election.

Malaysians waited with bated breath as polling closed at 5pm (local time) to find out if the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN), which has governed uninterrupted for 56 years, will continue or cede power to the popular opposition alliance.

Eighty per cent of the 12.99 million registered voters cast their votes in Malaysia's 13th general elections held across the country. All 8,245 voting centres were closed at 5 pm (local time), the Election Commission said.

The BN had held 135 seats in the 222-member Parliament that was dissolved last month.

The ruling coalition is dominated by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) led by Prime Minister Najib Razak and also includes Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC).