Malaysia's Najib to dissolve lower house

Saul Bowman
April 7, 2018

The opposition says the election will be unfair.

The government has indeed implemented an inclusive and comprehensive transformation which has yielded at least seven successes for the people and country since 2009, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Najib's announcement comes on the back of robust growth for Malaysia, buoyed by a recovery in global crude oil prices and increased trade and infrastructure investment from Malaysia's largest trading partner, China. Voting must be held within 60 days.

Najib's governing coalition National Front has been in power since Malaysia's independence from Britain in 1957.

He stoked further controversy last week by pushing a law through parliament to redraw the electoral map that critics say greatly tilts the election in favour of his ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

Najib only narrowly won the last election in 2013 after losing the popular vote to an opposition bloc, now led by 92-year-old former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The Prime Minister also advised the heads of all the state governments to seek the consent of the Sultans and Yang Dipertuas Negeri to have their respective state assemblies dissolved so that the elections can be conducted simultaneously, except in the case of Sarawak, which had held the state election on May 7, 2016.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing.

The opposition alliance is trying to erode the coalition's support base by focusing on the allegation that Najib improperly received money from a sovereign wealth fund. Transactions related to 1MDB are under investigation in six countries including the United States, Singapore and Switzerland.

But analysts predict a tough fight from Mahathir, who transformed Malaysia into an industrial nation from a rural backwater during his iron-fisted 22-year rule until 2003.

With the common goal of taking down Najib, Mahathir has joined hands with his former deputy and jailed opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, ending a feud that had shaped the country's political narrative over two decades.

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