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Pork-barrel election pledges are a step back for Malaysian democracy

Ruling and opposition blocs must focus on economic reform, not promises of cash handouts

| Malaysia
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, shown here at an election rally in Kuala Lumpur on April 7, has been dogged by allegations of corruption.   © Reuters

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has dissolved the lower house of parliament and the public is set to go to the polls on May 9. Malaysia may have one of the best-performing economies in Southeast Asia, but with its ruling and opposition camps apparently interested only in wooing voters with pork-barrel policies, it is hard not to conclude that the country is veering ever farther off the path to becoming a mature democracy.

The ruling coalition led by Najib -- Barisan Nasional, or National Front -- which has been in power since the country's independence in 1957, aims to stay on top by touting Malaysia's high economic growth, running at a 5.9% clip in 2017.

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