ST forum to discuss Malaysia's 14th General Election

Malaysians are expecting elections in the coming weeks, with a new government expected to be in place by May 16.
Malaysians are expecting elections in the coming weeks, with a new government expected to be in place by May 16.PHOTO: REUTERS

The buzz over Malaysia's 14th General Election is getting louder, with its Parliament expected to be dissolved within weeks.

Many politicians and analysts expect a new government to be in place by May 16, when the annual Muslim fasting month starts.

In the run-up to the polls, Prime Minister Najib Razak's Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition has been busy tamping down unhappiness over the cost of living with cash aid and promises of more affordable housing, as well as trumpeting improved public transport networks via MRT and LRT lines.

BN is quietly confident of extending its undefeated run, sensing that the majority of the Malay community remains on its side.

BN, through lead party Umno, is also getting help from frenemy Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), which has been attacking the other opposition parties while keeping mum on scandals involving the Federal Land Development Authority and state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

PAS says it will contest 130 of the 222 federal Parliament seats, badly splitting the opposition vote.

But some pundits cast doubt on BN's assessment of the ground. They see former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad injecting new vigour in the opposition camp, with Malay voters crowding his political rallies.

The four-party Pakatan Harapan opposition pact, chaired by Tun Dr Mahathir, thinks it can deliver a surprise "Malay tsunami" to topple Datuk Seri Najib.

Issues relating to Malaysia's general election will be addressed by three speakers at the ST Global Outlook Forum on April 19. They are Dr Francis Hutchinson, senior fellow and coordinator of the Malaysia Studies Programme at ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute; Ms Selena Ling, head of treasury research and strategy at OCBC Bank; and Mr Shannon Teoh, The Straits Times' Malaysia bureau chief.

The forum is sponsored by OCBC Premier Banking. It will be held at OCBC Centre in Chulia Street. To register online, go to http://str.sg/oTFB

More stories on the Malaysia election at str.sg/malaysiaGE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2018, with the headline 'ST forum to discuss Malaysia GE'. Print Edition | Subscribe