MALAYSIA: Deja-vu as Mahathir Clinches General Election Vote

MALAYSIA: Deja-vu as Mahathir Clinches General Election Vote
Photo Credit:AP/ 達志影像
What you need to know

GE14 was the most competitive election in the history of Malaysia, with a voter turnout of 80 percent and a razor-thin victory for Mahathir's opposition alliance.

Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and his Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) alliance surpassed the 112 parliamentary seats needed to form a government, beating out the incumbent Najib Razak and his Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition to nominally take power in Malaysia's GE14 general election.

As of 6:00 a.m., Mahathir’s alliance had won 113 seats, just one over the threshold required to win. Najib's Barisan Nasional had secured 79 seats, while the Malaysian Islamic Party won 18 seats.

Mahathir told a press conference that Pakatan Harapan won at least six states – Penang, Selangor, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Johor and Kedah.

Almost 13 million people voted in this election, leading to a voter turnout of 80 percent. Exit polls were close throughout the day, but by 11:30 p.m. it became clear that Barisan Nasional’s pre-polling day lead had evaporated.

At 92, Mahathir will become the oldest leader on the world stage. He was 32 when Malaysia gained independence and was Malaysia's fourth prime minister, holding power between 1981 and 2003.

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Photo Credit:AP/ 達志影像
Mahathir Mohamad, third from left, celebrates at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, May 9, 2018.
Voting controversy

Polling stations across the country saw long queues starting from 8:00 a.m, and by the 5:00 p.m. closing time, there were still many people who had yet to vote. Local election officials told citizens that those in line could enter to cast their vote. However, Election Commission chairman Mohamad Hashim Abdullah said in an interview on state-run television that voting would immediately stop after the polls closed, as per Malaysian law.

In some areas, citizens forcibly inspected passing vehicles for additional fraudulent ballots, leading to clashes between citizens and police.

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Credit: AP / TPG
Malaysian police officers fire tear gas towards opposition party supporters in Putrajaya, Malaysia, early Thursday, May 10, 2018.

Due to the short official campaign season, many local constituencies did not receive their ballots until early May, and some did not have time to distribute them before the election.

Chinese-language coverage of the election can be found on The News Lens ASEAN here and here.

Translation: Morley J Weston

Editor: David Green