CLOSINGS: View Closings

Malaysia sets election date for May 9

Malaysians will go to the polls on Wednesday, May 9, to cast their votes in a parliamentary election that pits incumb...

Posted: Apr 10, 2018 11:39 AM
Updated: Apr 10, 2018 11:39 AM

Malaysians will go to the polls on Wednesday, May 9, to cast their votes in a parliamentary election that pits incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak against the combined force of two bitter rivals.

Candidates, who must be nominated on April 28, are expected to include 92-year-old opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad.

Mahatir, who served 22 years as the country's leader before retiring in 2003, has come back determined to topple the party he once led by joining forces with his arch-nemesis, former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, whom he once jailed for corruption and sodomy.

Mahathir and Anwar have put aside rivalry to focus on defeating frontrunner Najib and his United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party, which forms the largest constituent in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

Prior to the dissolution of parliament on Friday, Najib's Barisan Nasional coalition held 131 of 222 parliamentary seats.

In the forthcoming elections, voters will cast ballots for Parliamentary seats, as well as on seats in state legislatures.

Mahathir's party dissolved

The run-up to the election has been mired in controversy as Najib's government has attempted to further tighten its grip on power. The opposition has accused it of widespread gerrymandering and increasing hand-outs among its ethnic Malay rural powerbase.

Last week Malaysia approved a law against "fake news" that would allow for prison of up to six years for offenders and the slapping of hefty fines, defying critics who say it was aimed at curbing dissent and free speech ahead of the elections.

On Thursday, Malaysian authorities ordered the temporary dissolution of Mahathir's party because of missing paperwork, a move widely said to be an attempt to hamper the opposition.

"The rationale for this is that among less educated and less informed voters this will neutralize some of the Mahathir effect," said Bridget Welsh, a professor of political science at John Cabot University who specializes in Malaysian politics. She added that while it was a "serious blow" to the opposition, it was expected and may backfire.

Speaking to CNN last week, Ibrahim Suffian, a political analyst with the Merdeka Center for opinion research said the action taken may likely further "enrage opposition supporters and energize them."

"While the broader impact is hard to measure ... Mahathir and his allies may make some inroads."

The Registrar of Societies official in charge of political party registration, Surayati Ibrahim, was quoted by media as saying that Mahathir's party could appeal against the ruling or reverse the order "if it provides the required documents within 30 days, failing which it will become permanent."

Mahathir said his Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) will appeal, striking a defiant note by adding that the party "will continue to campaign ... we have the right to use our name and logo till the day RoS deregisters us."

However, Wong Chin Huat, a political scientist at Penang Institute, said Mahathir is unlikely to defy the order and will be able to contest under the banner of another opposition party and will still lead the opposition into the election.

"He won't and he can't because the election commission won't accept nomination of candidates under a deregistered party," he added. "And party membership is not even constitutionally required."

Opinion is divided over whether Mahathir has the clout to oust Barisan Nasional, which has ruled uninterrupted since the country's independence in 1957.

"Structurally Najib has a clear advantage given the unlevel playing field and his control of resources, but the election is fluid and the opposition has been gaining ground in recent months,' said Welsh.

"For now, Najib should win, but the campaign is important in Malaysia and can shift or mobilize the ground. Najib government's heavy-handed tactics in the past few weeks have not helped him."

Split opinion

Public dissatisfaction with Najib has grown in recent years, especially after news broke over alleged financial mismanagement of a government-run fund called 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB.

Najib has been embroiled in accusations that hundreds of millions of dollars were stolen from the fund, which he formed in 2009 to invest in property, infrastructure and energy projects.

The US Justice Department filed lawsuits in 2016, amended earlier this year, to recover more than $1.7 billion that prosecutors said were laundered through the fund, which is headed by Najib.

US justice officials said that between 2009 and 2015, more than $3.5 billion from 1MDB was misappropriated by high-level officials of the board and associates. Besides the United States, several other countries are investigating the fund.

Najib has been accused of siphoning money from the investment fund after $681 million was transferred into his accounts. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing and said the money was donated by a member of the Saudi royal family.

The 1MDB scandal helped galvanize the opposition and prompted Mahathir to forge an alliance with Anwar, who is back behind bars after being found guilty of sodomy a second time in 2015.

They have agreed that if the opposition wins, Mahathir would be an interim prime minister until Anwar is able to obtain a royal pardon for his sodomy conviction, which disqualifies him from contesting the elections or holding office.

Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, is the candidate for the deputy prime minister role.

Rising costs of living and a growing rift among the country's multiracial, multi-religious populace have also dented Najib's popularity.

However, the opposition in Malaysia is weaker now compared with the last election in 2013, when the Barisan Nasional coalition led by Najib limped to the finish line, losing the popular vote and failing to snag a two-thirds majority in parliament.

The opposition has been embroiled in internal squabbles and sullied by scandals of their own and Najib's government has been bolstered by strong economic growth.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 453808

Reported Deaths: 6131
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin941381495
Ramsey40509748
Dakota33463350
Anoka31283368
Washington20471234
Stearns18051190
St. Louis13916247
Scott1213098
Wright11756107
Olmsted1073975
Sherburne827868
Carver703139
Clay657684
Rice621170
Kandiyohi556772
Blue Earth546833
Crow Wing489178
Otter Tail463167
Chisago458138
Benton423288
Winona394248
Douglas378466
Nobles374447
Mower372129
Goodhue355362
Polk330660
McLeod327947
Beltrami315048
Morrison314145
Lyon304738
Becker288839
Itasca287143
Isanti284842
Carlton283543
Steele278510
Pine269614
Freeborn253623
Todd233130
Nicollet227938
Brown217434
Mille Lacs215045
Le Sueur213516
Cass210524
Meeker201233
Waseca192816
Wabasha17413
Martin171726
Roseau166317
Hubbard150238
Redwood141027
Houston139814
Dodge13864
Renville138040
Chippewa132332
Cottonwood128918
Fillmore12646
Wadena120218
Rock111912
Aitkin111233
Sibley10947
Faribault108816
Watonwan10688
Pennington101016
Kanabec99318
Pipestone96423
Yellow Medicine94916
Murray9096
Jackson87310
Swift84418
Pope7465
Stevens7078
Marshall70315
Clearwater68714
Lake66315
Lac qui Parle66016
Wilkin6349
Koochiching60310
Lincoln4892
Big Stone4693
Unassigned44568
Grant4388
Norman4258
Mahnomen4147
Kittson37320
Red Lake3204
Traverse2613
Lake of the Woods1961
Cook1150

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 310915

Reported Deaths: 4432
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46760465
Linn18037279
Scott15838172
Black Hawk14076243
Woodbury13111181
Johnson1228552
Dubuque11615159
Pottawattamie9146115
Dallas907772
Story879438
Cerro Gordo472572
Webster472077
Sioux459657
Warren458039
Clinton457768
Marshall430762
Buena Vista396230
Muscatine395878
Des Moines394943
Plymouth352870
Wapello349898
Jasper331659
Lee324132
Marion308953
Jones274650
Henry267331
Carroll258234
Bremer249848
Crawford234324
Washington222933
Boone222717
Benton213050
Mahaska197637
Jackson194932
Tama190159
Dickinson188329
Kossuth178544
Delaware176036
Clay172021
Wright166624
Fayette165924
Hamilton162230
Buchanan162024
Winneshiek160820
Harrison158162
Hardin156931
Cedar155519
Clayton153849
Butler150924
Page146415
Floyd141436
Cherokee140027
Mills138517
Lyon137533
Poweshiek134924
Hancock131524
Allamakee130930
Iowa127722
Madison123610
Calhoun12349
Grundy122528
Jefferson122125
Winnebago121729
Mitchell116837
Louisa116230
Cass114843
Chickasaw113712
Appanoose112440
Sac112015
Emmet111232
Union111023
Humboldt106619
Shelby105427
Guthrie104224
Franklin103318
Unassigned10110
Palo Alto91711
Montgomery88324
Keokuk86326
Howard85519
Monroe82220
Clarke8108
Pocahontas78111
Ida75930
Davis70121
Greene6977
Adair69620
Monona67018
Lucas66610
Osceola64711
Worth6184
Taylor5999
Fremont5246
Van Buren50215
Decatur4964
Ringgold44811
Audubon4218
Wayne41921
Adams2993
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
21° wxIcon
Hi: 26° Lo: 2°
Feels Like: 21°
Mason City
Cloudy
21° wxIcon
Hi: 26° Lo: 4°
Feels Like: 21°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
19° wxIcon
Hi: 23° Lo: 0°
Feels Like: 19°
Austin
Cloudy
19° wxIcon
Hi: 24° Lo: 1°
Feels Like: 19°
Charles City
Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 26° Lo: 3°
Feels Like: 23°
Snow will continue into Sunday morning
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events