Malaysia's parliament convenes amid shifting political balance

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-11 11:30:03|Editor: Yamei
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KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Malaysia's first parliament session of the year convened on Monday amid changes in the balance of the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition and the opposition.

The session, which will last till April 11, is expected to see Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), as a member of the PH coalition, having a stronger presence after a series of defections since last year.

The party now holds 22 seats in the lower house of the parliament, a significant increase from the 12 seats in the general election last May.

The latest increase were seven former members of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), including a former minister, who were accepted into PPBM in February.

The opposition coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), of which UMNO is the largest in the group, has seen its numbers dwindle from 54 in the general elections last year to 37.

The BN has rebounded with recent victories in two recent by-elections, with an UMNO candidate keeping its Cameron Highlands parliamentary seat in January and gaining one state assembly seat in early March.

The party also announced an informal pact with the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) last week, a move which is believed to help it tap into the country's ethnic majority Malay-Muslim voters.