WITH elections to be called this Wednesday (May 9), Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his imprisoned arch rival Anwar Ibrahim have published open letters calling on the people to vote for their respective parties.
In his personal blog, Najib on Tuesday said “voters must know the truth” to make an informed choice about this election.
The prime minister, who is seeking a third term in office, said since the last election in 2013, the opposition have gone to “extraordinary lengths” to topple the democratically-elected government in between election cycles.
“If the opposition resort to undemocratic means to acquire power, they will never rule democratically,” Najib said, describing the polls as the bedrock of the Southeast Asian country’s democracy.
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Despite ruling for nearly six decades, the Barisan National (BN) ruling coalition faces its biggest challenge in the polls, which have been described as the “mother of all elections”.
BN’s popularity has also been on the decline since 2013 after a series of graft allegations and, among others, the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) that imposes a six percent charge on day-to-day items and services.
“Introducing GST was one of the hardest decisions I have made,” Najib said.
“I knew that it would lead to some increases in the prices of some goods and services, and that it would be painful for some Malaysians. But I also knew that without the GST, our economy would continue to be overly reliant on the price of oil,” Najib said.
Malaysia is the second largest oil and gas producer in Southeast Asia.
In January, the opposition named former premier Dr Mahathir as its frontrunner while the country’s most popular opposition leader Anwar remained in jail.
Dr Mahathir is seen as the biggest threat to Najib, who is engulfed in a corruption scandal.
Dr Mahathir, who earned a reputation during his 22-year tenure as prime minister as a no-nonsense authoritarian with little time for dissenters promoting liberal values, stands to become the world’s oldest leader if the opposition wins.
A victory could also potentially pave the way for Dr Mahathir’s former foe-turned-comrade Anwar to become the prime minister.
Meanwhile, Anwar urged Malaysians to support Dr. Mahathir’s efforts to “fix the country”.
“I urge you to stand with the people’s movement to demand change in the 14th general election,” Anwar said in his letter which he wrote while recovering in a hospital, under observation of prison guards.
Anwar said the ruling coalition was worried about his cooperation with Mahathir, adding that he and his family had set aside the Anwar-Mahathir rivalry in order to prioritise the nation.
“Mahathir had proven his determination to the cause, accepted his past limitations, apologised and sacrificed his time and energy for the people and country.
“He has patiently faced Umno and BN’s insults and focused on strengthening the Harapan (opposition) machinery.
“I would like to urge the people to show support so as to allow him to fix the rot facing the country as a result of corruption and abuse of power by the Umno-BN government under the leadership of Najib Abdul Razak,” Anwar said, as quoted by MalaysiaKini.