MALAYSIA: On Saturday, Malaysian politicians began their election trails for what is considered to be a cut-throat chase to the administration, as incumbent Prime Minister Ismail Sabri contests veterans like Anwar Ibrahim and Muhyiddin Yassin.
The election trails begins in Malaysia
Political analysts and expert polls predict no single party or even a coalition front will secure a simple majority in the 222-seat parliament and that opposing allies have to join hands together to form the next Malaysian government.
In the midst of mounting political instability, doubled with rising inflation in a struggling economy, around 21 million Malaysians are expected to rush to the polls and select their leader. Malaysia has reportedly seen three premiers at its administrative helm since the last election in 2018.
Rival coalitions are led by Ismail, former interim prime minister Muhyiddin and long-time opposition leader Anwar. There are numerous other parties in the race, including one founded by another former premier Mahathir Mohamad, a factor which will influence the splitting up of votes more than ever before.
Adib Zalkapli, a director at political consulting firm Bower Group Asia, remarked, “This is the first time we are witnessing three equally strong coalitions with experienced leaders contesting.”
He suggested the huge possibility that there will be no clear winner in the race and that coalitions will have to negotiate and agree on common grounds to form a new government.
According to the state news agency, Prime Minister Ismail, who is a member of the Barisan Nasional coalition, said that no parliamentary seat was going to be won easily.
Along with other leaders, Ismail filed nominations on Saturday, officially inaugurating the two-week campaign trail.
The Malaysian premiership race comes at a crucial time when the economy is expected to see a global slowdown, deterring a recovery from the pandemic-induced slump. Moreover, inflation is on the persistent rise as the Malaysian central bank increases interest rates this week for a fourth straight week.
Back in the 2018 election, the opposition had formed a strong retaliation to defeat Barisan, which had ruled and governed undisputedly for 60 years since Malaysia’s independence from British colonialism.
Barisan, then headed by Najib Razak, was facing public outrage over the multi-billion-dollar 1MDB scandal and other corruption charges. Najib was eventually sentenced to a 12-year jail term.
Although the opposition was managed by veteran politicians like Anwar, Muhyiddin and Mahathir, their power could not hold due to internal fighting, and their alliance inevitably collapsed just 22 months after it began. In this election, none of the leaders are working together.
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