Malaysia’s opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has alleged that the ruling party’s vote could be bolstered with phantom ballots, in this weekend’s election.
TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Polling predicts this weekend’s election in Malaysia will be the closest in the country’s history.
Malaysia’s Barisan Nasional coalition has ruled for 57 years, but at the last election in 2008, the party lost its two-thirds parliamentary majority.
Now the country is waiting to see whether the Opposition, led by controversial figure Anwar Ibrahim, can force a change in government.
South-East Asia correspondent Zoe Daniel reports from Kuala Lumpur.
ZOE DANIEL, REPORTER: It’s still a long shot. Malaysia’s Pakatan Rakyat coalition must win about 35 more seats than it currently holds to take government in its own right. A big challenge in a country where people have been voting only one way for almost six decades.
The Opposition is made up of three multi-racial parties, one of which is predominantly Chinese, one predominantly Islamic and is led by the sometimes controversial former ruling party deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, who spent six years in jail after allegations of corruption and sexual misconduct, now widely interpreted as a Government smear campaign.
The ruling party says the Opposition is fractious and unreliable and that its election could lead to instability in multi-racial Malaysia.
The Opposition responds by saying that the Government has been relying on the politics of fear and using cash handouts, mass media dominance and fraudulent stacking of voting roles to win Sunday’s poll.
We spoke with Mr Anwar at his office in Kuala Lumpur.
Mr Anwar, welcome. Are you going to win this election?
ANWAR IBRAHIM, OPPOSITION LEADER: Well, initially I said I was cautiously optimistic, but now I think with the upsurge of – in growing support, I’m very confident that we’ll make it.
ZOE DANIEL: You have to win 35 seats to get that majority. That’s a big ask, isn’t it?
ANWAR IBRAHIM: Not really because we are able to consolidate our position in the five states, including Kuala Lumpur, six states. So we have been enormously successful in our penetration into the rural heartland, particularly around Jahor, Saba and Sarawak, where we failed miserably in 2008.
ZOE DANIEL: What will prevent you from winning?
ANWAR IBRAHIM: Massive fraud. We have presented our case based on the March electoral roll where we find even postal voters who are actually designated there as Bangladeshis or Pakistanis or Indonesians, but they are supposed to serve the Army or the police. So clearly, there’s a fraud there. (Inaudible), more than 28,000 designated as Filipinos and Indonesians who are voters based in Saba but voting in Kuala Lumpur or Selangor and there has not been a satisfactory response from the Election Commission.
ZOE DANIEL: Are you disappointed that Australia didn’t send election observers?
ANWAR IBRAHIM: Well it’s quite baffling to my mind because the initial response from Australia is that there’s no interference in domestic affairs. We are not asking them to support any party. We are asking them to remain consistent with Australian foreign policy position in support of freedom and democracy. Why do you make so much noise about Iraq or Afghanistan or Myanmar and mute it with regard to Malaysia?
ZOE DANIEL: If you win, who will be Prime Minister next week?
ANWAR IBRAHIM: Well of course, as we say, we are party by consensus. There is talk that I may be able to – I mean, given the chance, or otherwise we’ll have to re-look at it if there is any other possibility or other candidate.
ZOE DANIEL: Is that a good answer though, because wouldn’t it be better if the population at least had certainty on that issue?
ANWAR IBRAHIM: Well, generally to the masses and all my campaign trips, Keadilan or DEP or Islamic Party leaders, they all – they always introduce me or invite me as the next Prime Minister, but I would leave it at that.
ZOE DANIEL: Thanks for your time.
ANWAR IBRAHIM: Thank you.