Much is at stake for current Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose last election as the head of the ruling Barisan Nasional yielded the worst results in the coalition’s long history, with opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan, winning the popular vote for the first time.
This year, Pakatan Harapan is mounting another challenge – with Najib’s former mentor and the country’s longest-serving Premier at its helm.
Politicians across the country have been attempting to woo voters, and campaigning has only intensified as the “mother of all elections” has drawn nearer.
Making a stop in Langkawi on Friday (May 4), where incumbent BN member of parliament Nawawi Ahmad will face off against Mahathir, Najib promised voters a whole host of goodies aimed at increasing tourism and giving locals’ earnings a boost, according to The Straits Times.
These include a budget of RM100 million for loans for local businessmen to build chalets, motels and shops, transforming Cenang beach into a bustling market like Bangkok’s Chatuchak, and a motocross circuit for enthusiasts, The Straits Times reported.
Mahathir is well regarded in Langkawi, part of Barisan Nasional stronghold state Kedah, having been widely credited with the Island’s growth and development.
The former premier has made several stops in BN territory, including Pekan, the seat held by Najib, a Felda settlement in Bukit Goh, and the country’s seat of government Putrajaya before returning to Langkawi yesterday.
The northern state of Penang, which has been under opposition control since 2008, has also received its share of goodies, including a slew of development projects recently approved by Najib.
The projects, worth RM40mil in Tasek Gelugor and Kepala Batas, included a RM30mil health clinic in Teluk Ayer Tawar, RM9mil for the upgrading of the existing police cabin in Penaga into a police station and construction of a RM250,000 health clinic, either in Pasir Gebu or Kuala Muda, The Star reported.
Najib also said the Government would study plans for the construction of a 250-lot parking complex at the Tasek Gelugor train station and approved RM3.5mil for the upgrading of a mosque in Sungai Lokan.
The opposition is not going down without a fight, holding two mega ceramah which drew large crowds, The Star reported.
It also rolled out 68 measures to improve Penang in its state manifesto in April, including promises to continue major infrastructure projects, such as highways, the Penang Undersea Tunnel, and flood mitigation projects, according to The Star.
As election day has drawn nearer, the campaign in Penang appears to have turned ugly, with candidates from both coalitions complaining of dirty tactics used against them, The Star reported.
Pakatan candidate for the Seri Delima state seat Syerleena Abdul Rashid, launched four police reports over two ‘fake’ banners claiming that she intended to change the country’s official religion.
Two police reports were also filed by Barisan Nasional’s Bagan Dalam candidate J. Dhinagaran over Barisan banners and flags in his area being vandalised, and another was made by his contender from Pakatan Harapan M. Satees, The Star reported.
“A check along Bagan Dalam shows that there are more Barisan flags because our flags have been pulled down by their people,” Satees is quoted as saying in The Star.
“The report was made because we were threatened by Barisan members and I want to prevent any untoward incidents,” he said.
He also denied that his people were responsible for vandalising the Barisan banners and flags.
Other candidates also recounted instances of vandalism and unethical tactics.