Mahathir votes, confident of opposition win

Najib, who is leading the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) to seek a third term, was speaking from Pekan in the eastern Pahang state, where he has held the parliamentary seat since 1976, while Mahathir was making the speech in Langkawi, a constituency he helped transform from a backwater island to an global tourist spot.

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.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak is facing a fight for his political survival when the country goes to the polls on May 9, after his strong lead over rival Dr Mahathir Mohamad narrowed sharply, popular British newspaper The Guardian reported.

Mahathir once accused opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim of being homosexual and expelled him from the political world.

Mahathir was spurred out of retirement over allegations that huge sums were looted from 1MDB, which Najib set up.

Khairy Jamaluddin, the sports minister and youth wing leader of the United Malay National Organisation (Umno), which leads the ruling coalition used Twitter to display a screenshot of a list of calls received. "We need a visionary to lead Malaysia". The battle largely is thus between BN and PH.

The fall in BN's support varied across states, it said.

Najib gave his last campaign speech at the same time as Mahathir. PAS has gone its own way and is fielding candidates separately at the poll, which could split the opposition vote. Though Najib survived the scandal, the issue has repeatedly dogged his tenure.

Siah Kwong Liang, 37, who is of Chinese descent, said he has no choice but to choose between Najib and Mahathir if there is no other option. The opposition is saying that the BN government's corruption has bankrupted the country.

Mahathir said he had never felt such a tidal wave of people demanding a transfer of power before, and emphasized that the opposition bloc would win the election as long as there is the power of citizens calling for changes. As a part of India's outreach to Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries and its relations with Malaysia, India is now holding a large joint military exercise, "Harimau Shakti", in Malaysia.

Another was the introduction of goods and services tax (GST) in Malaysia.

In a pre-election statement, Najib savaged Mahathir as a self-confessed "dictator". There are accusations that both leaders are using divisive rhetoric trying to exploit racial tensions to get votes.

But critics have raised concerns the election will not be free and fair.

Swinging the Malay vote away from UMNO, however, will not be easy, especially in areas of "Felda settlers", Malays who work for the national palm plantation operator Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) and have been a rock-solid votebank for the ruling coalition. At the last election in 2013, the turnout was around 85 percent. It also criticized disqualification of several opposition candidates on nomination day. The 13th election (GE13) in 2013 saw Najib's administration lose the traditional popular vote. He urged voters to vote for the opposition to save the country.

Najib focused on goodies for young voters and Muslims as Ramadan nears.

An anti-fake news law was also introduced in the run up to the elections, where those found guilty of spreading fake news can be fined a maximum of 500,000 ringgit ($128,000) and face up to ten years in jail.

  • Arturo Norris