MALAYSIA’S Opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) on Wednesday night said it has won enough parliamentary seats in Malaysia’s general election to form the next government, but the Election Commission said no party has simple majority of 112 seats as of 1.42 am, with 47 seats yet to be confirmed.
It was a stunning triumph that nearly no one had predicted and ended the long hold on power of the Barisan Nasional (BN, National Front) coalition, which has ruled Malaysia since its birth as an independent country.
Stakes are high for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is already weathering a multi-billion dollar scandal involving state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The former prime minister said the Election Commission (EC) returning officers were not doing their duty by refusing to sign form 14, which is the official declaration.
Despite the shock result there were no reports of trouble on the streets, where pockets of celebration erupted overnight. Heading into Wednesday’s polls, he was facing a stiff challenge from his 92-year-old former political mentor, Mahathir. These people are good people who will ensure a good government, not like Najib’s government.
Defeat could just be the beginning of Najib’s troubles.
The US Justice Department says $US 4.5 billion was looted from state investment fund 1MBD by associates of Mr Najib between 2009 and 2014, including $US 700 million that landed in Mr Najib’s bank account.
When asked if anything will be done with Najib, Dr Mahathir said he is not seeking revenge but seeking to restore the rule of law.
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 (0300 GMT) on Thursday.
Leaders from both the opposition alliance and the ruling party claimed their communications were being disrupted by non-stop spam calls on their mobile phones as voting progressed.
Attention will now focus on PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is due to be released from prison next month. In an unlikely reconciliation, he has joined hands with Mahathir, who sacked him as his deputy in 1998.
Najib’s ruling right-wing party, Barisan Nasional, has been in power since the country gained independence in 1957.
Official results showed that, so far, Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) had won 90 of parliament’s 222 seats and Najib’s ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN), had won 69. In Perak, BN won 27 state seats, PH 29, while PAS won 3.
Najib was nowhere to be seen as the evening wore on, and was believed to have holed up inside his house for talks with senior members of BN.
Analysts said Thursday’s win by the opposition was a resounding rejection of the political status quo. He is credited with building a thriving economy in Malaysia.
The Election Commission said that 69 percent of the roughly 15 million registered voters had cast their vote as of 0700 GMT, two hours before polls closed.
“The high number of marginal seats (37), implies that voter turnout will be a critical factor in determining the outcome of many seats on election day”, the pollster said in the statement, adding that it predicted BN would retain federal power.
The rise of Mahathir has put a fresh face to the troubled opposition.
There was also deep unhappiness at the fact that the elections were held on a weekday – only the fifth time in the country’s history such a thing has happened, and the first time in the country’s history it was held in midweek.