5 questions on Malaysia's general election

Q: What if the election has no clear winner? Barisan Nasional (BN) needs at least 112 of the 222 seats to form the government.

Shannon Teoh: When you look at policy stability, it's tied to Prime Minister Najib Razak. If BN doesn't get to even 120, there's no certainty that he will be the next PM and there could be an internal coup. Unless he does reasonably well, at least as well as he did the last time, we don't have any certainty that for the next five years he will be PM. So it's not just about 112 seats.

Q: Will there be riots by sore losers after the election is called, like the May 13, 1969, race riots?

Francis Hutchinson: At Pakatan Harapan meetings, rallies, there are quite a lot of Bersatu (PPBM) members. You can divide them into the recycled Umno types in their 40s and 50s, and young guys in their 20s and 30s.

If you start thinking about ethnic strife, then who is it against? You have the same community on both sides... There could be disturbance, but the nature of it would not be ethnic.

Q: If Pakatan Harapan wins, will Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad pass the position of PM to Anwar Ibrahim, who is due to be released from jail in June?

Shannon Teoh: There is an uneasy compromise and understanding between Dr Mahathir and Anwar that each has a sphere of influence, has important roles to play. They might not like each other, 20 years on from what happened, but I think Dr Mahathir does recognise he can't have it all his own way.

Anwar's camp has extracted this so-called promise that Dr Mahathir will step down once Anwar is released, once he gets a pardon and he can contest a by-election and take on the mantle of PM. But it's not a straightforward process. It could be a while before you see Anwar getting all the boxes checked so he can become PM.

Q: Will the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail be jeopardised if Dr Mahathir wins?

Selena Ling: I suspect that when the opposition, if it comes into power, its first duty will be to try and get things in order. I'm not sure that they will be going around rewriting all the contracts with other people, because that's the clearest way of sending all your foreign investors fleeing for the door.

Q: What kind of odds are bookies offering?

Selina Ling: I haven't seen the odds but if the run-up to (the 2016 American presidential election) was anything to go by, polls and odds don't tell you the full story. What markets don't like is uncertainty. Once the results are out and if they're clear, then we can move on and it's business as usual.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2018, with the headline '5 questions on Malaysia's general election'. Print Edition | Subscribe