Facing polls, Malaysian PM to skip ASEAN summit
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will not attend a summit of Southeast Asian leaders next week in Brunei in order to focus on campaigning for a coming general election, his office said Friday.
"Prime Minister Najib is not going to Brunei. It is to allow him to concentrate on the general election," a spokesman in the prime minister's office told AFP in a phone interview.
The April 24-25 summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is held annually and takes place this year in the tiny oil-rich sultanate of Brunei, the regional body's 2013 chair.
Malaysia is bracing for May 5 elections widely expected to be the closest in the nation's history.
The Barisan Nasional (National Front) is among the world's longest-serving governments, dominating the moderate Muslim country since independence in 1957 thanks to decades of economic growth and authoritarian rule.
But it is under pressure from a three-party opposition alliance led by charismatic former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim that tripled its number of parliament seats in 2008 and eyes a historic upset.
Barisan's grip has slipped as many voters have deserted it in anger over corruption, rising crime, authoritarian tactics and other gripes.
Malaysian Senate President Abu Zahar Ujang will attend the summit in Najib's place, the spokesman said. -Rappler.com