Barisan Nasional

February 24, 2008 10:11 ET

"Choose Economic Progress and Prosperity For All"

Urges Prime Minister Badawi as Malaysian General Election Campaign Gets Underway

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 24, 2008) - Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi today said that Malaysians can look forward to a future of economic progress and prosperity for all with Barisan Nasional (the governing coalition), as campaigning officially starts Sunday in the 2008 General Election. In total some 222 parliamentary seats will be contested in the Malaysian general election when voting occurs on 8th March.

Prime Minister Badawi added that Malaysia's strong economic, performance had been achieved "thanks to the sound economic decisions we have taken over the last four years to encourage growth, employment, social equity, wealth creation and steady growth in international trade and investment." Malaysia's progress is being built not by providence but "by proven leadership," he said.

"Now the Malaysian people have a choice about their future. I am confident they will choose the path of proven economic progress and prosperity for all which can only be achieved by increasing our international competitiveness, reducing budget deficits, and bringing growth, investment and job opportunities to all parts of Malaysia."

"As the world's economy enters challenging times, proven leadership on the economy couldn't be more important for the future of Malaysia," said the Prime Minister.

Malaysia's economy grew by an estimated 6.3 percent in 2007, and is expected to maintain a similar growth rate in 2008 despite the U.S. slowdown. Nearly $14 billion of foreign direct investment in manufacturing and service sectors poured into Malaysia last year, a 69 percent increase year-on-year, including sizeable investments by investors ranging from General Electric of the United States to Richard Branson's Virgin Group.

Mr Badawi described the election contest as a choice between two starkly different futures for Malaysia.

One is Barisan Nasional's vision of Malaysia as a modern, progressive Islamic country founded on security, peace and prosperity for all, confident in its outlook and with a growing competitiveness in the Asia region and the global marketplace.

The other is a more insular, dogmatic and divisive future championed by a "coalition of convenience that moves in opposite directions." He described the opposition alliance that includes the socialist leaning Democratic Action Party and the conservative Islamic party PAS, which is committed to the introduction of Sharia law, as a "pact of convenience with no shared beliefs or ideology."

As campaigning began Sunday, the prime minister said he would stress the choice between a forward-thinking Malaysia with an open economy that is both pro-business at home and competitive in new markets and an opposing "coalition of convenience" which would take Malaysia backwards.

The election, Mr. Badawi said, "is about who is best placed to bring about the progressive change Malaysia needs to meet the challenges of globalisation" and to move Malaysia up the value chain as a developing country in a high-growth region of the world. Mr Badawi has said repeatedly that in an Asia dominated by China and India the aim is to engage and trade rather than to fear competition from economic giants.

Throughout the campaign Prime Minister Badawi said he would be making his case directly to the people, urging them to choose a future for Malaysia which is modern, progressive and built on security, peace and prosperity for all ethnic components of this multicultural society.

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