KUALA LUMPUR - All 28 constituencies in the Melaka election will witness at least three-cornered fights, as Malaysia's big-three political coalitions will face off in the Nov 20 polling.
There are three wards with six-way contests, officials said, as nominations closed at 10am on Monday (Nov 8).
In what is seen as a harbinger of stiff multi-way fights in the general election expected next year, the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition is contesting on its familiar banner.
Umno had rejected working under the flag of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) alliance.
PN, Malaysia's second major alliance, consists of two main factions - Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) led by ex-premier Muhyiddin Yassin and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).
The third coalition contesting in all 28 seats is Pakatan Harapan (PH) which is led by federal opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.
Umno, Bersatu and PAS govern Malaysia together at the federal level, but they failed to unite for the Melaka polls after Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi ruled out working with Bersatu.
Election Commission chairman Abdul Ghani Salleh said it received 112 nomination papers that qualified to contest in the state polls.
"From the total, 28 nomination papers were from Barisan Nasional, 28 from Perikatan Nasional, 28 from Pakatan Harapan, five from Parti Bumiputra Perkasa Malaysia (Putra), one from Parti Perikatan India Muslim Nasional (Iman) and 22 independents," Datuk Abdul Ghani told a news conference.
He added that 11 seats will see three-cornered fights, while nine will witness four-cornered contests.
Five seats will see five-cornered fights, and another three are six-cornered.
The oldest candidate is 68 year-old Kalsom Nordin from BN while the youngest is 21-year-old Farzana Hayani Mohd Nasir from PH.
The state polls were called after a new political crisis hit Melaka - Malaysia's most historically-rich state once ruled by the Portguese, the Dutch, the Japanese and the British, and was visited by China's Ming admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho) in his voyages.
Four Melaka assemblymen, two of them from Umno, abandoned the Umno-led coalition last month (October), causing its collapse.
The Umno Melaka government itself was formed last year after the collapse of the PH state administration due to defections of four PH state lawmakers.
A lot of bitterness is thus in the air and expected to be aired during the 13 days of campaigning.
The hottest contest in Melaka will be in the Tanjung Bidara state seat, pitting Umno's Melaka chief Ab Rauf Yusoh and his former protege, Mas Ermieyati Samsudin who is now with Bersatu.
Datuk Mas Ermieyati was the former Puteri Umno Puteri (young women's wing) chief but she defected to Bersatu soon after the 2018 general election.
In PH, its Democratic Action Party ally is unhappy with Datuk Seri Anwar for putting up two ex-Umno assemblymen, whose defections caused the Melaka government's collapse, to contest under the PH flag.
Meanwhile, though Malaysia has mostly reopened its economy and people are allowed to travel within the country freely, the federal government has banned all political gatherings in Melaka, Malaysia's smallest state by land size after Perlis.
Political rallies, walkabouts and distribution of pamphlets directly to the public are not allowed, with the government saying this would prevent a surge in Covid-19 cases in Melaka, as seen in state election in Sabah in September last year.
The only form of physical campaigning allowed is the use of loudspeakers from vehicles at fixed times and with a police permit.
Melaka has 495,195 registered voters, with 71.6 per cent of them aged between 21 and 59 years of age.
The federal Health Ministry recorded 4,543 new Covid-19 cases for the whole country on Monday, while 75.2 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated.