Malaysia’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was sworn in for a second term on Monday, winning the backing of his ruling coalition despite unprecedented losses in weekend elections.
Trade on the Malaysian bourse was suspended when shares plunged more than 10 per cent in the wake of the Barisan Nasional coalition’s shock loss of its crucial two-thirds parliamentary majority and four states to the opposition.
Voters punished the government for rising inflation and its mishandling of racial tensions, leading to a backlash from Malaysia’s minority ethnic Chinese and Indians as well as Muslim Malays who form its powerbase.
But Badawi rejected calls from predecessor Mahathir Mohamad to step down, and went to the royal palace in Kuala Lumpur to take an oath before Malaysia’s King Mizan Zainal Abidin in a solemn ceremony.
Later, after meetings of the Barisan Nasional and the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) which leads it, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said they had given Badawi their “full support” to remain as leader,
Badawi was upbeat despite the rebuke handed to the coalition which has ruled for half a century, and downplayed the loss of the two-thirds majority which had allowed it to amend the constitution at will.