Monday, 20 August, 2018

Malaysia's opposition make strong early gains - unofficial tallies

Dr M attempts to tarnish EC image Malaysia's Mahathir claims election win as count swings against government
Leonard Rios | 10 May, 2018, 00:43

The opposition, which has sought to project a more multi-racial image, has been unable to mobilise support among rural Malays, adding to difficulties of trying to unseat a deeply entrenched government.

"Democratic institutions have always been used by the government and by the ruling party as a tool to maintain a democratic illusion", Dr. Lemiere said. The commission did not respond to phone calls or text messages seeking comment.

"We believe that from our official counting that they're left far behind. This is not fake news".

Many still remember him fondly as a champion of the Muslim majority and father of modern Malaysia and the architect of policies that transformed a sleepy Southeast Asian backwater into a relatively affluent country.

Peter Mumford, an analyst with Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy for investors, said the credibility of Malaysia's institutions has been "torn to pieces" by Najib's election tactics. It remains unclear whether it is significant enough of a shift to end the ruling National Front's 60-year hold on power.

But some key BN figures appeared to have fallen, with unofficial results on Bernama state news agency showing the heads of the ethnic Indian and Chinese parties in the coalition had lost their seats.

Some opposition lawmakers and voters complained on social media of hours-long queues to cast ballots, although it was not clear how widespread the problem was.

Most results are expected before midnight but the count may spill into the early hours of Thursday. There was no immediate word on the final turnout, with the last update from the Election Commission at 3:00 pm putting it at 69 percent.

The title of Razak's blog, "The Right Choice to Make Malaysia Greater", is similar to Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign slogan "Make America Great Again".

But polling from the respected Merdeka Centre indicates that at best, the result is too close to call.

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Election officials say turnout has hit 55 percent by 1 p.m.in Malaysia's general election. It was understood that they would each get another 200 Ringgit if they managed to cast their ballots today.

A dodgy electoral re-distribution which has increased already-gerrymandered electorates, new "fake news" laws created to shut down discussion of Najib's involvement in the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund scandal and friendly mainstream media are among the factors that could ensure the governing coalition hangs on to power.

A crowd of cameramen and photographers jostled for space as a smiling Mahathir, 92, entered the polling booth and waited for his turn to vote.

People are allowed to pass into Malaysia at only two of the eight checkpoints along the border at that location, Thai authorities say. "People are for people".

Mahathir, a former mentor to Najib, shocked Malaysians by coming out of retirement and teaming up with Anwar Ibrahim - who served as his deputy prime minister in the 1990s, before the pair fell out spectacularly and Anwar was jailed on trumped-up sodomy charges.

The optimism has been triggered by the decision of 92-year-old former leader Mahathir Mohamad, a champion of the country's Muslim Malays, to run as the opposition's prime ministerial candidate.

Najib said the campaign was "quite vicious in the content of the personal attacks which doesn't reflect a mature democracy".

Overseas Malaysians, including many from the 160,000-strong diaspora in Australia, flooded back to the country of their birth to vote.

Morning newspaper headlines focused on Najib's election eve promises of tax exemptions for young people, extra public holidays and a five-day break from road tolls if his coalition wins.

Analysts had widely predicted that Najib's BN would retain power. But it could still win a majority of seats in parliament due to an electoral system that gives more power to rural Malays, its traditional supporters.

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