Opposition takes Malaysia in historic polls

Ex-strongman seeks legacy as savior of Malaysia's democracy

Opposition takes Malaysia in historic polls

Voters have a stark choice in Malaysia's election on Wednesday: resurrect the country's 92-year-old former authoritarian leader or give a third term to Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose alleged role in the multibillion-dollar ransacking of a state investment fund has battered Malaysia's standing overseas.

According to a statement from Malaysia's electoral commission on Tuesday, more than 14.4 million registered Malaysians are eligible to cast their votes on Wednesday.

Mahathir Mohamed and supporters celebrate at a Kuala Lumpur hotel after official results showed they staged a stunning upset to win Wednesday's general election, ending the six-decade rule of the National Front.

Anwar led the opposition in the 2008 and 2013 polls. A simple majority in Malaysia's parliament is 112 seats.

Dismissing the opposition's criticism, Najib says that rating agencies continue to rank Malaysia high.

Nawab, the scholar, said there was a small chance that neither BN nor the opposition secures a majority, which would bring a "hung parliament" and potentially put the Islamic Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS) in the position of kingmaker.

Najib, in politics since the age of 23, served as a minister under Mahathir and is widely viewed to have risen through the ranks of the United Malay National Organisation (UMNO), BN's main party, because of Mahathir's patronage. Billions of dollars were allegedly stolen from the fund, which was set up and overseen by Najib.

Najib - who was cleared of any criminality by Malaysia's attorney general - and 1MDB have both denied any wrongdoing.

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.

Mahathir accused the Election Commission of refusing to release the results "because we believe from our unofficial counting that they (BN) are left far behind and the likelihood is that they will not be forming the government".

Because the Goods and Services Tax and currency are major voter concerns, the outcome of the election will likely affect the country's economic policies.

Two or three years ago, the travails of prime minister Najib Razak were driving hopes that change might finally be on the way.

"The election commission is not doing their duty and is holding back the result". But with ballots only sent to worldwide voters a week earlier many voters' only option was to find a volunteer to hand their vote to an election official before 5 p.m. Wednesday.

To thwart criticism from the opposition, Najib also passed anti-fake news law on April 2 despite widespread protests. EC said earlier it expected voter turnout to reach the same level as last year's 85 percent.

Liow Tiong Lai, president of Malaysian Chinese Association, lost his seat in Bentong, Pahang state, and S. Subramaniam, president of the Malaysian Indian Congress, did not win his constituency of Segamat, Johor state.

He urged Malaysians to vote based on facts.

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