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Malaysia by-elections a popularity test for Razak

world Updated: Apr 06, 2009 16:36 IST

With a new leader at the helm, Malaysia's three by-elections scheduled tomorrow will test the popularity of the newly appointed Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.Former premier Mahathir Mohammad, who re-joined the ruling Umno party, a component of the Barisan Nasional, after Najib was sworn-in last week hit the campaign trail without wasting any time. More than 5000 admirers mobbed him as he campaigned for the Barisan candidate for the Bukit Gantang seat in Perak state.

By-elections are being held for two state assembly seats and one parliamentary seat. The Barisan Nasional had lost its two-thirds majority in parliament in last year's general elections to a resurgent and aggressive opposition alliance led by de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Najib's predecessor Abdullah Badawi owned responsibility for the dismal show at the polls and had promised to quit and hand over office to his deputy Najib.Abdullah quit on Thursday last.

Mahathir on Monday hammered the Opposition, especially Islamic opposition party Pas's candidate for Bukit Gantang seat, Nizar Jamaluddin alleging he was insincere.He said it was not easy to run a multi-racial country. "If we do something for a certain group of people, the other groups will be upset," he said.