Malaysia Coalition Wins Mandate to Extend 55-Year Rule: Timeline

May 6 (Bloomberg) -- Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s United Malays Nasional Organisation-led government extends its 55-year grip on power in yesterday’s general election.

His Barisan Nasional coalition won 133 seats in the 222-member parliament, its narrowest victory since the Southeast Asian nation’s independence in 1957, defeating former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s opposition People’s Alliance. The following is a timeline of events leading up to the poll.

1957: Federation of Malaya gains independence from Britain.

1963: Singapore and Borneo territories of Sabah and Sarawak unite with the federation, which is renamed Malaysia.

1965: Parliament votes to expel Singapore after ideological differences and racial violence between ethnic Malays and Chinese.

1969: Riots between ethnic Malays and Chinese leave hundreds dead after the UMNO-led coalition loses two-thirds majority in parliament for first time, prompting government to suspend legislature for more than a year.

1971: Prime Minister Abdul Razak, Najib’s father, introduces New Economic Policy, establishing racial preferences in economy, education and housing for Malays and indigenous people to reduce wealth gap with ethnic Chinese.

1974: Barisan Nasional formally registers as a coalition, an expanded version of earlier UMNO-led alliance. Includes parties representing each of Malaysia’s three main races, as well as indigenous peoples.

1981: Mahathir Mohamad, a medical doctor, appointed prime minister. Holds post for 22 years.

1991: Anwar Ibrahim, a former student leader, named finance minister.

1993: Anwar appointed deputy prime minister while retaining finance portfolio.

1998: Mahathir fires heir apparent Anwar after clashing over response to Asian financial crisis. Government imposes capital controls, pegging ringgit to the dollar.

1999: Anwar jailed for six years for abusing his former government posts to obstruct police probes into his alleged sexual misconduct. Decision sparks protests in capital. Malaysia’s four largest opposition parties announce pact to cooperate for first time in election as Alternative Front.

2000: Anwar convicted of sodomy and sentenced to nine years in prison, charges he claims are politically motivated.

2003: Mahathir steps down in favor of successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

2004: Anwar freed from jail after country’s highest court overturns sodomy conviction in surprise decision.

March 2008: Barisan Nasional loses two-third parliamentary majority and control of five state assemblies in elections, worst performance since its founding. Anwar unable to contest seat due to earlier conviction.

August 2008: Anwar wins by-election to return to Parliament after disqualification period expires, vowing to lead revamped three-party opposition alliance known as Pakatan Rakyat, or People’s Alliance, to power.

April 2009: Najib takes over as prime minister after Abdullah resigns.

March 2010: Najib unveils New Economic Model, altering affirmative action policies to become more merit-based.

September 2010: Najib begins government and economic transformation programs, identifying $444 billion of private sector-led projects to implement by 2020.

July 2011: Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, also known as Bersih, holds street protest in Kuala Lumpur to push for changes in electoral system. Police use tear gas and water cannons to break up demonstration, arresting more than 1,600 people.

September 2011: Najib announces new civil liberties, including repealing Internal Security Act which had given police wide-ranging powers to detain suspects indefinitely.

November 2011: Lower house approves legislation banning street demonstrations.

January 2012: Anwar acquitted of second sodomy charge.

April 2012: Bersih holds second rally in capital, with police detaining more than 500 people.

September 2012: Najib unveils pre-election budget, extending cash handouts for poor people of all races.

April 2013: Najib dissolves parliament for elections on fourth anniversary as prime minister.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Ten Kate in Bangkok at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at