Parliamentary Chamber: Dewan Rakyat


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  Dewan Rakyat

Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  20 October 1990
21 October 1990

Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the seats in the House of Representatives following premature dissolution of the House of Representatives on 5 October 1990. Previous general elections had taken place in August 1986.

Background and outcome of elections:

  Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad dissolved Parliament and called for elections a year before they were due. Polling was scheduled to be held simultaneously with voting for 351 seats of the State Assemblies of the Federation (except Sabah and Sarawak).

The often bitter 10-day campaign featured no outdoor rallies or political processions, banned since racially based riots after the 1969 elections left hundreds dead. For the first time, the ruling coalition National Front (Barisan Nasional) was facing a co-ordinated group of opposition parties headed by a former Minister, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. Previously, opposition had come from fragmented Chinese and Indian Parties.

The campaign centred more on the personalities of these two leading candidates than on any debate of substance. The opposition leader claimed that the Prime Minister had become dictatorial, and accused him of corruption and economic mismanagement. But the country’s economy was doing well, with continued growth and foreign investment. And the Government underlined that it had spread the benefits of economic development to the people; its slogan was “peace, stability and prosperity”.

Less than a week before the poll, the Parti Bersatu Sabah (Sabah United Party) - which held nine Representatives’ seats - defected to the opposition. On election day, the 10-party National Front - which has dominated Malaysian politics since independence in 1957 - once again gained the two-thirds House majority needed to amend the Constitution, although its overall total fell from 133 to 127 seats. Prime Minister Mahathir - in office since 1981 - was sworn in for a third term and reshuffled his Cabinet, announced on 26 October.

Round no 1 (20 and 21 October 1990): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 8,000,000 (approx.)
Voters 70% (approx.)

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group Candidates
National Front (Barisan Nasional) 166
Democratic Action Party (DAP) 57
Parti Bersatu Sabah 14
Semangat ‘46 61
Pan-Malayan Islamic Party (PAS) 30
Other parties 17
Independents 64

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total Gain/Loss
National Front (Barisan Nasional) 127 -6
Democratic Action Party (DAP) 20 -4
Parti Bersatu Sabah 14 n.a.
Semangat ‘46 8 n.a.
Pan-Malayan Islamic Party (PAS) 7 +6
Other parties 0 -1
Independents 4 =

  Three seats added since last elections.
The National Front (Barisan Nasional) is formed by:
  • United Malays National Organization: 71 seats
  • Malaysian Chinese Association: 18 seats
  • Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu Sarawak: 10 seats
  • Malaysian Indian Congress: 6 seats
  • United Sabah National Organization: 6 seats
  • Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia: 5 seats
  • Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak: 4 seats
  • Sarawak United People’s Party: 4 seats
  • Sarawak National Party: 3 seats

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 171
Women: 9

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Copyright 1990 Inter-Parliamentary Union