Asia Minute: Malaysia Votes in Dramatic Election

May 9, 2018

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak
Credit Wikipedia Commons

This is election day in Malaysia. The Prime Minister is facing one of the biggest challenges of his political career, while voters go to the polls for national and state elections. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak learned a lot from his political mentor—former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Now the two men are facing off in one of Malaysia’s most dramatic elections in decades.

Mahathir served as Prime Minister of the Southeast Asian nation from 1981 to 2003. He came out of retirement and is running as a 92-year-old candidate to challenge Najib—who has been in office since 2009, and has been faced with increasing allegations of corruption.

Najib came out with several last-minute campaign promises—including one to add two public holidays and to cut taxes for younger people in the country of more than 30-million.

The current prime minister once held a comfortable lead, but recent voter surveys show Mahathir has been closing the gap.

While the future of Malaysia’s top political leadership is at stake, there are wider aspects to this election.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad
Credit Yanbei / Wikimedia Commons

Every seat in Malaysia’s parliament of 222 is up for election. So are more than 500 seats for state representatives.

Malaysia is an archipelago nation spread over nearly 900 islands. Although nearly two-thirds of the country’s population live in peninsular Malaysia—just north of Singapore.

Election Day is expected to be busy: at more than 8,200 polling places around the country.