Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Media accused of pro-protester bias in Ferguson

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackiling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackiling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment

Read more

FOCUS

Republicans block Obama's bid to hike minimum wage

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users divided over Darren Wilson

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users take on 'Ice Bucket Challenge' to fight ALS

Read more

ENCORE!

From Paris's Liberation to 'arresting' art in Avignon

Read more

  • US says Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

    Read more

  • Malaysia mourns as remains of MH17 victims arrive home

    Read more

  • Reporter’s IS captors taunted family, asked for €100m ransom

    Read more

  • Two US Ebola patients leave hospital ‘virus-free’

    Read more

  • Hollande is ‘nobody’s president’ says former French minister

    Read more

  • Turkey’s Erdogan names foreign minister Davutoglu as next PM

    Read more

  • US reaches historic $16.7bn settlement with Bank of America

    Read more

  • Special report: Supplying Ukraine’s soldiers on the front line

    Read more

  • Israeli air strike kills three top Hamas commanders

    Read more

  • France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms

    Read more

  • Tensions high in Yemen as Shiite rebel deadline looms

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Former Irish PM Albert Reynolds dies at 81

    Read more

  • Former Femen activist detained after fighting veiled woman

    Read more

  • Thailand coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha voted prime minister

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Voters prepare for Malaysia's hotly contested election

© AFP

Video by Katerina VITTOZZI

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-05-04

Malaysia prepared for a tight race ahead of Sunday’s general election, as an independent survey showed Prime Minister Najib Razak’s coalition running neck and neck with Anwar Ibrahim's opposition alliance.

Malaysian politicians made a final campaign push as an independent survey showed Prime Minister Najib Razak’s long-ruling coalition running neck and neck with the opposition alliance ahead of Sunday’s general election.

A survey released by polling house Merdeka Center predicted Najib’s National Front coalition could win 85 parliamentary seats, while a three-member opposition alliance led by Anwar Ibrahim will take 89 seats. It said 46 seats were too close to call while two seats will go to smaller parties.

The National Front now holds 135 seats in the 222-member Parliament, while Anwar’s People’s Alliance has 75 seats after some lawmakers left in recent years to become independents.

If the opposition wins, it will mark a remarkable comeback for Anwar, a former deputy prime minister who was fired in 1998 and subsequently jailed on corruption and sodomy charges that he claims were fabricated by his political enemies. He was released from jail in 2004 and now leads the biggest threat to the National Front.

“They are in a dead heat. Both are enjoying equally strong support. It will be a very tight contest,” said Ibrahim Suffian, head of Merdeka Center.

Anwar’s alliance surged into political prominence in 2008 elections when it won more than a third of seats in parliament and gained control of several states. It was the biggest blow for the National Front since independence from Britain in 1957 and was spurred by discontent about corruption and racial and religious discrimination.

The Merdeka Center poll, which questioned 1,600 people between April 28 and May 2, showed 42 percent agreed the opposition should be given a chance to govern while 41 percent supported the National Front, which has been in power for 56 years. Four percent of voters refused to respond while 13 percent were undecided, it said. The poll’s results have a margin of error of 2.45 percent.

About 13.3 million Malaysian are eligible to vote for parliament members and lawmakers in 12 state legislatures on Sunday. A fifth of the voters will be voting for the first time.

Ibrahim Suffian said the survey showed that many people aged below 40, who account for 52 percent of voters and have greater access to the Internet, backed the opposition, while the National Front is more appealing to the older generation in rural areas.

He said the survey indicated a split among Malays, who make up 60 percent of Malaysia’s 29 million people and traditionally support Najib’s ruling Malay party that heads the National Front.

The government said the survey showed Najib’s approval rating at 61 percent while 58 percent of voters agreed the country was on the right track.

A statement by the prime minister’s office said the survey excluded voters in its stronghold Sabah and Sarawak states on Borneo, which if included, “would tilt the poll even more in favor” of the National Front.

Najib, 59, who is seeking his first mandate at the polls since becoming prime minister in 2009, has taken on the reform mantle to counter the opposition.

He has embarked on a series of economic and government transformation efforts to revamp his coalition’s image, including abolishing security laws widely considered repressive, wooing investment from abroad and bolstering public welfare, including cash handouts for civil servants and the poor. He has pointed to the National Front’s stewardship that turned Malaysia from an agricultural backwater into a modern, stable nation.

Najib reiterated Friday that the National Front has a “good chance” of regaining its two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Anwar also said he is confident of winning because of rising support among younger voters.

“People have enough of this semi-authoritarian rule, of complete (government) control of the media, of strong arrogance, of power and endemic corruption,” Anwar told The Associated Press in an interview this week.

Anwar and a polls watchdog have voiced concerns that the results could be marred by fraud.

Complaints have been made that indelible ink, which will be used for the first time to prevent multiple voting, could be washed off voters’ fingers. The opposition has also said the National Front is chartering flights to bring tens of thousands of dubious voters to cast ballots in key areas. The government said the flights were part of efforts to bring voters back home to vote.

Polling watchdog Bersih urged Malaysians to exercise their right to vote as it warned the elections could “be stolen from the people with a series of fraudulent moves on the eve of polling day.”

(AP)

Date created : 2013-05-04

  • MALAYSIA

    Malaysian PM dissolves parliament ahead of election challenge

    Read more

  • MALAYSIA

    Malaysian opposition leader cleared of sodomy charges

    Read more

  • MALAYSIA

    Police arrest hundreds ahead of pro-reform rally

    Read more

COMMENT(S)