Early Malaysia results show swing to opposition

Malaysia Election Commission denies allegation it's hiding results

Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad said the opposition alliance he leads had won enough parliament seats in Wednesday's general election to form the next government, but the count was continuing and official results so far did not back his claim. Polling Day, when citizens get to vote, falls on Wednesday.

Overseas Malaysians, including many from the 160,000-strong diaspora in Australia, flooded back to the country of their birth to vote. However, outraged Malaysians took to social media to offer funding and other services to help people return home to vote.

Some analysts say a lower turnout favors the ruling party.

The National Front lost its two-thirds majority in parliament in 2008 polls and lost the popular vote in 2013, though it still won 60 percent of seats that year. A 13th state, Sarawak, has already held its election.

But in rural areas, the rising cost of living, which has hit poor Malays hard, was the main concern at the election particularly after the introduction of an unpopular sales tax in 2015. The opposition says it will scrap the GST if it wins.

A dodgy electoral re-distribution which has increased already-gerrymandered electorates, new "fake news" laws created to shut down discussion of Najib's involvement in the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund scandal and friendly mainstream media are among the factors that could ensure the governing coalition hangs on to power. But in his attempt to unseat Mr. Najib in this campaign, he joined with opposition leaders he once sent to jail.

Importantly, no one has been convicted of any crime connected to 1MDB, though investigations are still pending, noted Zeger Van Der Wal, associate professor at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Najib has been cleared of any offence by the attorney general. The only thing that is certain is that we are entering new and uncharted terrain politically.

Investors are watching the election because Malaysia is among six emerging economies where elections this year have "the potential to move markets", according to a UBS report in February.

Peter Mumford, an analyst with Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy for investors, said the credibility of Malaysia's institutions has been "torn to pieces" by Najib's election tactics.

More news: Photo ID Required for Early Primary Voting

Mahathir in a televised address Thursday said a representative of Malaysia's constitutional monarchy had contacted the opposition to acknowledge its victory.

Mahathir was the country's authoritarian leader for 22 years until 2003.

"This is a repudiation of Najib's government from all walks of life from the very rural northern states to the more industrial southern coast", said Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asia expert at John Cabot University in Rome.

Despite the anger, however, Najib is still expected to win due to what the opposition claims is poll-rigging, and a system that requires only a simple majority of MPs in parliament to maintain power.

In response, a Malaysian government spokesperson told CNBC that the redrawing of electoral boundaries to account for population growth is a "perfectly normal practice" that has been applied in democracies around the world.

The survey published by independent pollster Merdeka Center on Tuesday said BN looked set to win 100 constituencies nationwide and the opposition 83.

His party postponed an evening news conference until Thursday morning and said Najib, who has ruled the Southeast Asian country for almost 10 years, would address the media at 11:00 on Thursday (11 p.m. ET, Wednesday).

But in an interview on pro-government television late on Monday, Najib said he was confident of winning the election.

Anwar said his partnership with Mahathir was the ruling party's "biggest worry".

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