Dissatisfaction with Mr. Najib has been cooking for years, especially among members of the ethnic Chinese minority of Malaysia. But Mr. Najib, who is the scion of an ethnic Malay political dynasty, could count on rural Malay constituents whose influence was heightened by the racial-based policies that help them.
The ruling National Front Alliance is dominated by Najib's United Malay National Organization, which has secured preferential treatment of the Malay majority in areas ranging from government jobs to university campuses.
In the run-up to the campaign season, the government alliance seems to have focused on creating ideals conditions to ensure the re-election of Mr. Najib. On Thursday, a government agency temporarily canceled Mr. Mahathir's new political party for submitting incomplete papers. Until the documentation is complete, Mr. Mahathir's political block may no longer camp or display its logo.
"There is no rule of law in this country," Mr Mahathir said at a late Thursday evening press conference. "Najib cheats the election by paralyzing his opponents."
Even before the dissolution of parliament was announced on Friday, flags for the National Front on overpasses and major intersections appeared in Kuala Lumpur, the nation's capital. There were no banners for the opposition parties, which were to join forces with the People's Justice Party to run for election.
Two controversial bills were passed in the last days of parliament. Electoral districts were so drastically revised that the opposition mocked it as Gerry Mandering. Another bill provides that "fake news" will be punished with up to six years in prison. The definition of "false news" has not been clarified.
Earlier this week, Mr. Najib promised to increase the 1.6 million Malaysians, most of whom are Malaysians. The Prime Minister also pledged to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on police officers and certain companies run by Bumiputra or the sons of the soil, known as Malays and indigenous peoples.
Mr. Mahathir was the architect of the Malaya Action Program, which was discriminated against during British rule. Promoting mass Chinese and Indian immigration, the British also gave the non-Malays some top-notch jobs in the colonial administration and business world, causing trouble today.
Pakatan Harapan, Malaysia's opposition coalition, is an unwieldy collection of disparate forces, including Chinese liberals, Islamists, and nationalist Malays. The word "Alliance of Hope" in Malay is cited by Mr. Mahathir, although some of the most prominent members of the coalition are longstanding opposition leaders who were imprisoned or harassed during the former prime minister's long term.
Chief among them is Anwar Ibrahim, former deputy prime minister of Mahathir, who had fallen from favor and was arrested for sodomy and transplantation charges, which were generally considered politically motivated. Mr. Anwar appeared in court in 1998 with a black eye insisting that Mr. Mahathir's allies insist that he had done himself
. Anwar is back in jail after a second sodomy sentence. It should be published in June. How the opposition will deal with two suns in its political solar system – Mr. Mahathir and Mr. Anwar – remains to be seen.
The electoral decision is so little inspiring for some younger Malaysian voters that they have begun a movement to indulge Votes against the state of national politics
However, the National Front says that since 2013 it has met 99 percent of its campaign pledges. The country with 30 million inhabitants is one of the wealthiest countries in Southeast Asia, although a study was last published. The United Nations and Malaysian Ministry of Health's year resulted in high rates of child malnutrition.
"Our goal is nothing less than one of the best nations in the world," said Najib on Wednesday.
Still Malaysia The international reputation has been damaged by a $ 3.5 billion scandal involving the One Malaysia Development Berhad Fund known as 1MDB.
A US Department of Justice investigation into a case of $ 1.7 billion in assets related to the fund found that $ 731 million paid into Mr. Najib-controlled bank accounts came from 1MDB , Mr. Najib claims that most of this money was obtained from a Saudi patron.
"For the prime minister, he is either reelected or imprisoned," said Mukhriz Mahathir, an opposition politician who is also the son of Mahathir. "The stakes could not be higher for him."
Several Malaysian investigations into 1MDB have not found any inappropriateness with Mr. Najib or his associates. Officials with 1MDB said that no money had disappeared from the fund. Mr. Najib has suggested that the investigations of foreign countries in the 1MDB are western witch hunts.
Both Mr. Najib and Mr. Mahathir have accused the outsiders of inciting dissenting opinions against them. Mr. Mahathir hinted that the Jews suffered in 1997 from the financial crisis in Asia. Mr. Najib has instructed "white people" to stop meddling in Malaysian affairs.
Malay populism and some Malaysian minorities are to be expected during the election campaign I have described this election as an existential moment for a country that needs a fine balance of races to gain stability. Although numbers are hard to come by, an ethnic Chinese brain drain Malaysia seems to be robbing qualified Malaysia employees.
"If the opposition loses again, there will be no hope," said Liew Chin Tong, an ethnic group of Chinese strategists for the opposition Democratic Action Party. "I'm worried that some people will leave Malaysia."
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