INSTANT VIEW: Malaysia opposition wins key by-election

KUALA TERENGGANU, Malaysia Sat Jan 17, 2009 1:49pm GMT

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KUALA TERENGGANU, Malaysia (Reuters) - Malaysia's opposition won a key by-election on Saturday that was seen as a test of incoming premier Najib Razak.

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), one of three partners in an opposition alliance, beat the government National Front coalition by 2,631 votes, reversing a government majority of 628 in the 2008 general election.

ANALYST COMMENTS

Bridget Welsh, Malaysia politics expert at Johns Hopkins University

"This is a decisive win for the opposition as a whole, led by PAS and backed up by the other opposition parties.

"This was also a decisive defeat for Najib and this is the second defeat in his inbox."

"This puts him in a position of weakness if we assume he will become the next prime minister."

James Chin, political science professor at Monash University in Malaysia.

"This is a major blow for Najib Razak as the defeat shows that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's star is still on the rise. More importantly, it shows that the Chinese have completely given up on the government."

(Reporting by David Chance; Editing by Niluksi Koswanage)

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