World News Brief, Thursday April 4

Malaysian parliament dissolved; North Korea bans South Korean workers; IMF considers $4.8 billion loan to Egypt; militants storm court in Afghanistan; and more

Malaysia Dissolves Parliament for Fresh Elections

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose National Front coalition has been in power since Malaysia's independence from Britain in 1957, dissolved parliament (WSJ) Wednesday to make way for a tightly contested election that will see him pitted against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. The National Front lost its two-thirds majority for the first time in the 2008 elections. Analysts say ethnic cohesion in Malaysian politics has begun to fray (NYT), as large numbers of Chinese voters--who comprise around a quarter of the country's population--have abandoned the coalition, and the country's main ethnic group, the Malays, remain divided.


"This time, some Pakatan members express utter confidence that it will come. That is probably bluster. The odds still favour the [National Front]. Constituency sizes give greater weight to voters in the countryside, who tend to be more conservative than the wired, cosmopolitan and cynical residents of the cities," writes the Economist.

"[For] an increasing number of Malaysians the old fault lines between Mr Najib's UMNO, the largest party in [the National Front], and the three opposition parties in Pakatan Rakyat are taking a back seat, as broad disaffection with corruption, alleged cronyism and demands for electoral reform have become rallying points for many voters," writes Jeremy Grant for the Financial Times.

"Observers have stated that three events last month before the final JJD tour in Kuantan have skewed the outcome of the general election in favour of Najib -- the Sulu intrusion in Lahad Datu, 206th Police Day and Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition," writes Azhari-Karim for the New Straits Times.



North Korea Blocks South Korean Workers

North Korea said Wednesday it will ban South Korean workers from entering the inter-Korean industrial zone in Kaesong (Yonhap), an abrupt move that comes after Pyongyang threatened to shut down the complex itself and launch a preemptive nuclear war on Seoul and Washington.

This CFR Backgrounder outlines the China-North Korea relationship, which has been shifting in light of escalated aggression from the North.


IMF considers $4.8 loan to Egypt

Militants storm court in Afghanistan


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