What to know about Malaysia’s general elections

Nov 17, 2022, 3:31 AM | Updated: Nov 18, 2022, 4:22 pm
Flags of Malaysia's ruling National Front coalition, or Barisan Nasional (blue) and Pakatan Harapan...

Flags of Malaysia's ruling National Front coalition, or Barisan Nasional (blue) and Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition (red) are displayed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022. Malaysia's general elections will take place Saturday, over a month after Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob dissolved Parliament and announced snap elections. The country's longest-serving coalition is seeking to regain its dominance after a shocking loss in 2018, but political reformers are aiming for a second surprise win. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

              A Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition volunteer gives out flags during an election rally in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. Malaysia's general elections will take place Saturday, over a month after Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob dissolved Parliament and announced snap elections. The country's longest-serving coalition is seeking to regain its dominance after a shocking loss in 2018, but political reformers are aiming for a second surprise win. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
            
              A Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition supporter waves a flag during an election rally in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. Malaysia's general elections will take place Saturday, over a month after Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob dissolved Parliament and announced snap elections. The country's longest-serving coalition is seeking to regain its dominance after a shocking loss in 2018, but political reformers are aiming for a second surprise win. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
            
              A flag of Malaysia's ruling National Front coalition, or Barisan Nasional, is displayed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022. Malaysia's general elections will take place Saturday, over a month after Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob dissolved Parliament and announced snap elections. The country's longest-serving coalition is seeking to regain its dominance after a shocking loss in 2018, but political reformers are aiming for a second surprise win. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
            
              Flags of Malaysia's ruling National Front coalition, or Barisan Nasional, are displayed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022. Malaysia's general elections will take place Saturday, over a month after Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob dissolved Parliament and announced snap elections. The country's longest-serving coalition is seeking to regain its dominance after a shocking loss in 2018, but political reformers are aiming for a second surprise win. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
            
              Flags of Malaysia's ruling National Front coalition, or Barisan Nasional, are displayed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022. Malaysia's general elections will take place Saturday, over a month after Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob dissolved Parliament and announced snap elections. The country's longest-serving coalition is seeking to regain its dominance after a shocking loss in 2018, but political reformers are aiming for a second surprise win. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
            
              Flags of Malaysia's ruling National Front coalition, or Barisan Nasional (blue) and Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition (red) are displayed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022. Malaysia's general elections will take place Saturday, over a month after Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob dissolved Parliament and announced snap elections. The country's longest-serving coalition is seeking to regain its dominance after a shocking loss in 2018, but political reformers are aiming for a second surprise win. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s general elections take place Saturday, over a month after Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob dissolved Parliament and announced snap elections. The country’s longest-serving coalition is seeking to regain its dominance after a shocking loss in 2018, but political reformers are aiming for a second surprise win.

Here’s a guide to Malaysia’s elections:

___

THE VOTING SYSTEM

Malaysia has a first-past-the-post system, so the party with the most votes, but not necessarily a majority, wins.

Voting is optional for the 21.1 million Malaysians who are eligible to vote, up 40% from 2018. More than 9,000 polling centers, mainly schools and community centers, will open for 10 hours. Counting will start once polling stations close, with results expected the same night.

To prevent political instability seen in the past few years, lawmakers are now barred from switching parties once they are voted into office. A minimum 112 out of 222 parliamentary seats are required for a simple majority. Three out of Malaysia’s 13 states will simultaneously hold local polls, though some states delayed local elections until 2023 to avoid the year-end monsoon rain.

The monsoon season, which often brings devastating floods, has created concern over voter turnout. Some 3,000 people have been displaced and thunderstorms are forecast in parts of the country on election day. The government declared a two-day holiday starting Friday — a move they hope will facilitate voting as well as ease anger against UMNO for forcing a snap poll.

___

THE PLAYERS

The main battle will again be between the long-ruling United Malays National Organization -led coalition and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim ‘s Pakatan Harapan, or Alliance of Hope. The Perikatan Nasional, or National Alliance, is a dark horse in the polls.

Riding on anger over government corruption, Anwar’s reformist bloc defeated UMNO’s coalition Barisan Nasional, or National Front, in 2018 polls that led to the first regime change since Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957.

The polls could be a last chance for Anwar, 75, to achieve a two-decades quest to become Malaysia’s prime minister. He was in prison during the 2018 election for a sodomy charge that critics said was politically motivated. The Alliance of Hope campaign was led by former premier Mahathir Mohamad, who became the world’s oldest leader at 92 after the victory. Anwar was pardoned shortly after and was to succeed Mahathir, but defections led to their government’s collapse in early 2020 and brought UMNO back to power under a quarrelsome new coalition.

UMNO is gunning for a strong comeback to regain its pre-2018 dominance, touting stability in the wake of political turmoil that led to three prime ministers in the last four years. But ongoing graft trials involving UMNO President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and imprisoned former Prime Minister Najib Razak cast a shadow over the party.

The UMNO’s ally-turned-rival the Malaysian United Indigenous Party, known as Bersatu, defected from the Alliance of Hope government in 2020, causing its collapse It’s led by former UMNO leader Muhyiddin Yassin, who was prime minister for just 17 months following Mahathir. Bersatu now leads the National Alliance, with an Islamic conservative party that has strong support in some rural Malay states.

At 97, Mahathir is leading a motley Malay movement that he hopes will win enough seats to be a powerbroker. But analysts expect the underdog won’t make much headway. Mahathir is defending his seat in the Langkawi resort island. His popularity has faded, but his alliance could still split Malay votes enough to tip the balance in a tight race.

Across the South China Sea, a slew of local parties will battle it out in Sabah and Sarawak states on Borneo island. With a quarter of federal seats, the two states are key to the victory of any alliance. Both National Front, which many of the parties traditionally align with, and Anwar’s alliance have offered to give the deputy prime minister post to a Borneo lawmaker to win support.

Some analysts predict a hung Parliament that could see new alliances formed post-election.

___

THE KEY ISSUES

Bread-and-butter issues top voters’ list of concern as the country grapples with a rising cost of living, a weakening currency and growing poverty. The ringgit has dropped to a 24-year low against the U.S. dollar, while the economy is expected to slow to 4%-5% next year.

“The unspoken call is there: Show me the money. Post-COVID, Malaysia’s electoral outcome is more vulnerable to the influence of election vote-buying than arguably ever before,” said Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asian political expert.

Unlike its rivals, Anwar’s alliance campaigned on a multiracial platform that promises needs-based — rather than race-based — assistance. It’s a particular concern for rural Malays, who enjoy privileges in jobs, contracts, education and housing under a decades-old affirmative action policy. Analysts say Malay voters, disgruntled with UMNO’s corruption-tainted leaders, may instead support the National Alliance’s Malay bloc. Anwar’s Alliance of Hope includes a Chinese-dominated party that has long been the target of UMNO attacks warning of Chinese economic domination if it wins.

The wild card is the 6 million new voters, including over 1.2 million 18- to 21-year-olds who are newly eligible after a law lowered the voting age. Some politicians have used TikTok videos and recruited social media influencers to target the young base.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A Boeing 747-8, Boeing's new passenger plane, takes its first flight, Sunday, March 20, 2011...
Associated Press

Boeing’s last 747 to roll out of Washington state factory

After more than half a century, Boeing is set to roll its last 747 out of a Washington state factory on Tuesday.
1 day ago
A sunken vehicle sit in the Mesaieed sea-line at the GMC dive site in Mesaieed, Qatar Wednesday, No...
Associated Press

AP PHOTOS: World Cup fans explore Qatar’s artificial reefs

MESAIEED, Qatar (AP) — Thirty feet (9 meters) deep into the waters of the Persian Gulf, angel fish swim in and out of rusted trucks and SUVs. Plastic bags and water bottles, blown in from the nearby shoreline, float across the ocean floor. World Cup fans in Qatar hoping to see some of the Gulf’s […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Train collision in Spain hurts 155, no serious injuries

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Two trains collided near Barcelona early Wednesday, injuring 155 people but none seriously, Spanish officials said. Emergency services for Catalonia said that although three people were taken to medical centers none of the passengers was considered seriously hurt. No further details on the nature of the injuries were given by officials. […]
1 day ago
FILE- An election commission staff separates ballot papers to count a day after the general electio...
Associated Press

Nepal votes counted, but new government could take days

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal has finished counting the votes that were cast in the Nov. 20 parliamentary elections, an election official said Wednesday, in polls that will ultimately determine the next prime minister. But formation of a new government could take days as no single party has secured a majority in the House of […]
1 day ago
People walk past the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 in New York. Stocks are op...
Associated Press

Asia stocks lower as China scales back many COVID curbs

Shares fell in Asia on Wednesday with Hong Kong’s benchmark down more than 2% even as Beijing announced it was drastically scaling back its “zero-COVID” policies, shifting away from trying to isolate every single case. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong fell 2.5% to 18,949.24 and the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.4% at […]
1 day ago
FILE - Three girls embrace before they are removed from the home of Samuel Bateman, following his a...
Associated Press

FBI: Polygamous leader had 20 wives, many of them minors

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The leader of small polygamous group near the Arizona-Utah border had taken at least 20 wives, most of them minors, and punished followers who did not treat him as a prophet, newly filed federal court documents show. Samuel Bateman was a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
What to know about Malaysia’s general elections