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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 November, 2003, 04:45 GMT
Malaysia PM urged to reform

Jonathan Kent
BBC, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia's opposition parties have called on the new prime minister to restore faith in the country's institutions.

Abdullah Badawi
The opposition is hoping for a thaw
They are asking Abdullah Badawi to reform the judiciary, police and laws governing the media but they have also paid tribute to the new leader's multi-cultural and religious credentials.

Opponents of Malaysia's former Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, accuse him of having undermined democracy in the country.

During the late 1980s top judges were sacked, newspapers closed and the media made to toe an even more pro-government line.

A decade later, in the wake of the sacking of Dr Mahathir's former deputy, Anwar Ibrahim, the courts and the police were regularly used to quell opposition.

The predominantly ethnic Chinese Democratic Action Party and Mr Anwar's National Justice Party want Abdullah Badawi to restore public confidence in these institutions.

Both have also called for greater respect for human rights and transparency in government.

It is thought that the new leader may start by replacing senior police officers associated with past controversies.

But there has also been praise for Mr Abdullah.

The Democratic Action Party hailed his efforts in the past to build good relations between Malaysia's ethnic communities and they want him to encourage more positive dialogue between them.

Mr Anwar's wife, Wan Aziza, noted the new leader's reputation as a religious scholar and asked that he be guided by his devotion to his Muslim faith and promote the notions of justice that Islam demands.

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