Candidates make final push ahead of Malaysia's crucial general election

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-5-4 13:25:45

Political parties and candidates are making their final pushes to woo voters in the countdown to Malaysia's closest ever general election on Sunday.

The ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front), led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, is eyeing adding another five years to its uninterrupted rule since the country achieved independence in 1957.

Speaking at a campaign event on in Kuala Lumpur late Friday, Najib urged the voters to think twice on the "change" promoted by the opposition, which could hamper the stability under the Barisan government.

Taking the Middle East as example, the 59-year-old said several countries in the region are now "experiencing winter" after the Arab Spring.

He was scheduled to campaign on Saturday in the central state of Pahang, where he will defend his parliament seat in the small town of Pekan.

He spent the previous day in the state of Selangor, the most industrialized region in the country and one the five states that the Barisan lost in the last election in 2008.

Barisan centers the campaign on its past record in building the nation and Malaysia's decent economic performance in recent years despite global uncertainties, as well as the economic and transformation agenda by Najib.

The prime minister's reform agenda includes the abolishment of several harsh laws like the Internal Security Act, and the loosening of some pro-Malay policies.

The ruling coalition, dominated by Najib's Malay-based United Malays National Organization, is edging the opposition by its deep pockets and powerful campaign machines that cover the whole country.

Seeking the first mandate after taking office half-way in 2009, Najib has been criss-crossing the country for campaign. He has also led Barisan to a head-on battle against the opposition on the Internet and social networks, in an effort to woo the more than 2. 3 million first-time voters out of the total 13.3 million.

On the other hand, the opposition People's Alliance, led by former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, is hoping to make a step forward after depriving Barisan of its long-held two-third majority in the 2008 general election.

Anwar was scheduled to spend the last day of campaign in Penang, a Chinese populated state and an opposition stronghold.

Anwar and other opposition leaders have promised a fairer economic environment and an end to the race-based politics in a multi-racial country. They have also vowed to tackle corruption and cronyism that they said had flourished under Barisan's rule.

The People's Alliance is having strong support from the Chinese minority, about 25 percent of the total population, who laments the privileges enjoyed by the Malay majority and other native races.

The opposition also has more support from the more educated and liberal group, as analysts said this election would be the first time that the opposition has a real chance to win.

However, the opposition is facing an uphill battle to win support in the Malay dominated rural areas as well as an electoral system that favors the incumbent.

They will need to win more than 30 seats from the states of Sabah, Sarawak and Johor, all Barisan strongholds, to get a simple majority in the 222-seat lower house of parliament.

Meanwhile, the People's Alliance is accusing the election commission for conspiring with Barisan to rig the polls by " Phantom voters", an allegation denied by the electoral body and Najib.

Facing a close election, both sides have brought up a significant portion of new candidates, while making populist promises to voters.

Both Najib and Anwar have said they were optimistic on the poll.

The election campaign will end by mid-night Saturday, as candidates are expected to go back to their own constituencies for ballot on Sunday.

Shuttle buses, even charter flights were arranged by political parties to bring voters back for polling.

Police and the election commission has urged the voters not to take to the street after the poll, no matter the parties they support win or loss in the election. Candidates are also urged to accept the election results.

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