Mon Jun 23, 2008 9:50am BST
(Recasts, adds market reaction, details and comment)
By Jalil Hamid
KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 (Reuters) - Malaysia's government sought a parliamentary debate on Monday to explain a spike in food and fuel prices that has triggered street protests and put pressure on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to resign.
Although a small party within the ruling coalition looked set to fail in an unprecedented attempt to force a censure vote in the lower house, the opposition could yet seek to turn the inflation debate into a vote of no-confidence against Abdullah.
Opening the debate in parliament, Domestic Trade Minister Shahrir Samad sought to portray the rise in prices as a matter outside government control.
"The price increases are beyond the government's control and the government has no resources nor capability to shield the country's economy from the effects of the global phenomenon," Shahrir told parliament.
Abdullah has been under pressure to quit after Barisan suffered its worst electoral setback in 50 years at a March poll, losing its two-thirds parliamentary majority and ceding five states to the opposition.
Public anger against rising prices and a resurgent opposition could compound the pressure for the premier to quit, threatening to stall Abdullah's plans to reduce civil service corruption and reform the judiciary.
Government bond yields rose while the stock market shed about 1 percent by late afternoon. The ringgit was little changed against the dollar at 3.26. Continued...
BERITADARIGUNUNG: I thought Shahrir will support whatever is noble, true, valid and reflecting the general feeling of people. Now that he is a minister, will he support the vote of no confidence against PM if that appear in Parliment.?.. i doubt..... Memang, mengekalkan Abdullah Badawi sebagai Perdana Menteri Malaysia sangat mahal harganya. Seluruh rakyat perlu berkorban ... maruah dan wang ringgit.