Malaysia enters crucial election year 2018

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While Malaysia’s Prime Minister in his New Year Speech pointed at the “milestones” the country has achieved in 2017, the 60th anniversary of its independence, such as solid economic growth, huge infrastructure and urban developments and a number of large foreign direct investments, he didn’t touch upon the upcoming elections to be held in August 2018, when voters are also expected to present him the bill for some misdemeanours that seemed to have happened in the government.

Observers say that Razak and his ruling right-wing coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) could feel the heat of a fierce battle for votes and an election day in crucial provinces with voters opting for fresh air in politics and a change of what is perceived as a government without governance, meaning without the necessary controls and balances, as could be seen in the still unresolved alleged corruption scandal revolving around state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, dubbed by US investigators as “kleptocracy at its best,” but widely let pass without much comment by the government.

The toughest battles are expected to be fought in three core states, Selangor, Kedah and Johor. Selangor, Malaysia’s richest and most industrialised state that has been ruled by the opposition since 2008, is governed by opposition party Pakatan Harapan (PH), which is seen to have governed the state generally well during its two terms in charge so far.

Another battleground is Kedah, where Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), a party set up by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad after he left ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) over differences with Prime Minister Najib Razak, is said to be a strong challenge for Razak. Kedah is also Mahathir’s birth state where the outspoken critic of Razak spent half of his life and still enjoys a lot of support and sympathy.

The third electoral challenge is set for UMNO’s stronghold of Johor, an economically vibrant sate bordering Singapore, where PH is aiming at making further inroads after its success in the last elections in 2013 when it won 16 seats in the 56-seat Johor state assembly, another success after the opposition party made its first significant headway into Johor in the 2008 general election.

However, beyond Peninsular Malaysia, the east Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak are expected to continue to be BN’s strongholds. Voters there gave about a third of parliamentary seats for BN in 2013. In the resource-rich state of Sabah, BN contested all 60 state seats in 2013, and won 48. This time, it is confident of winning all of them

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

While Malaysia’s Prime Minister in his New Year Speech pointed at the “milestones” the country has achieved in 2017, the 60th anniversary of its independence, such as solid economic growth, huge infrastructure and urban developments and a number of large foreign direct investments, he didn’t touch upon the upcoming elections to be held in August 2018, when voters are also expected to present him the bill for some misdemeanours that seemed to have happened in the government.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

While Malaysia’s Prime Minister in his New Year Speech pointed at the “milestones” the country has achieved in 2017, the 60th anniversary of its independence, such as solid economic growth, huge infrastructure and urban developments and a number of large foreign direct investments, he didn’t touch upon the upcoming elections to be held in August 2018, when voters are also expected to present him the bill for some misdemeanours that seemed to have happened in the government.

Observers say that Razak and his ruling right-wing coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) could feel the heat of a fierce battle for votes and an election day in crucial provinces with voters opting for fresh air in politics and a change of what is perceived as a government without governance, meaning without the necessary controls and balances, as could be seen in the still unresolved alleged corruption scandal revolving around state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, dubbed by US investigators as “kleptocracy at its best,” but widely let pass without much comment by the government.

The toughest battles are expected to be fought in three core states, Selangor, Kedah and Johor. Selangor, Malaysia’s richest and most industrialised state that has been ruled by the opposition since 2008, is governed by opposition party Pakatan Harapan (PH), which is seen to have governed the state generally well during its two terms in charge so far.

Another battleground is Kedah, where Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), a party set up by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad after he left ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) over differences with Prime Minister Najib Razak, is said to be a strong challenge for Razak. Kedah is also Mahathir’s birth state where the outspoken critic of Razak spent half of his life and still enjoys a lot of support and sympathy.

The third electoral challenge is set for UMNO’s stronghold of Johor, an economically vibrant sate bordering Singapore, where PH is aiming at making further inroads after its success in the last elections in 2013 when it won 16 seats in the 56-seat Johor state assembly, another success after the opposition party made its first significant headway into Johor in the 2008 general election.

However, beyond Peninsular Malaysia, the east Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak are expected to continue to be BN’s strongholds. Voters there gave about a third of parliamentary seats for BN in 2013. In the resource-rich state of Sabah, BN contested all 60 state seats in 2013, and won 48. This time, it is confident of winning all of them

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