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Night of drama, confusion at 14th Malaysian General Elections

SINGAPORE – It was touted as Malaysia’s fiercest and most significant political contest in its 61-year history, and the 14th Malaysian General Election delivered plenty of drama and fireworks on Wednesday (May 9) in a day that was also marked by chaos and confusion on the ground.

There was drama aplenty at the 14th Malaysian General Election, with unrest reported at some polling stations.

There was drama aplenty at the 14th Malaysian General Election, with unrest reported at some polling stations.

SINGAPORE – It was touted as Malaysia’s fiercest and most significant political contest in its 61-year history, and the 14th Malaysian General Election delivered plenty of drama and fireworks on Wednesday (May 9) in a day that was also marked by chaos and confusion on the ground.

While political analysts and experts had tipped the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) to retain power despite a robust challenge from the Pakatan Harapan (PH) opposition camp led by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, it appeared that the tide had turned for the incumbents, as initial results from the polls showed that PH had gained the lead in the race.

Dr Mahathir declared in a press conference late Wednesday night that the opposition had won the simple majority of at least 112 parliamentary seats. The feisty 92-year-old opposition coalition leader also fired a salvo at the election commission, as he claimed that there was a “deliberate attempt to delay by not signing the form”.

He also claimed that PH had captured six states: Penang, Selangor, Malacca. Negeri Sembilan, Johor, and Kedah.

Dr Mahathir said: “This isn’t fake news. You can’t take me to court for fake news. They are left far behind. The likelihood is that they would not be forming the government.

“By now we would know who’s winning or losing. But there’s a deliberate attempt to delay by not signing the form. The election commission is not doing their duty and is holding back the result."

However, Dr Mahathir’s claim was refuted later by the election commission, as its chairman Hashim Abdullah said in a press conference just after midnight that the commission was still receiving results from officials across the country.

Rumours of the commission refusing to confirm results sparked off tension at some polling stations, as supporters clashed with riot police at a centre in Ayer Hitam, while unconfirmed media reports said that protestors were also heading to Prime Minister Najib Razak’s official residence in Putrajaya, and that roadblocks were being set up.

Many Malaysians also took to social media calling for the election commission and the ruling Government to announce the polling results, and to respect the votes of its citizens.

Barely an hour after Dr Mahathir’s fiery statement, Tan Sri Hashim insisted that the commission would be “fair and transparent. He said: “Of course, the public is waiting and we fully understand this. But please give us a bit of time to make an official announcement.

“Please don’t worry, there is no conspiracy. We will make a declaration immediately. We ask the public to be patient.”

He did not give a definite timeline when queried on when Malaysians could expect the commission to confirm the results, and even joked to reporters: “Let's wait until the results come out, and sleep here.”

However, some 30 minutes later, the election commission held another press conference to announce results for five states: Penang, Perlis, Kelantan, Terengganu, and Pahang.

As results – official and unofficial – filtered down to Malaysians, some supporters took to the streets to celebrate as fireworks lit the skies of opposition states around the country. Among the biggest shocks was the state of Johor, the birthplace of ruling party Umno, with several of its ministers and deputy ministers suffering shock losses. They included Malaysian Indian Congress president Subramaniam Sathasivam and Mr Chua Tee Yong, vice-president of the Malaysian Chinese Association.

The early hours of Thursday morning saw the top leaders from BN arriving at Mr Najib’s house for an emergency meeting. Umno youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said after the meeting: “We have to accept the will of the people, and the Prime Minister will be issuing a statement and we will be holding a press conference tomorrow (Thursday, 11am).”

He also said in a tweet: “Malaysians have spoken. And the people’s voice is sacred. Good luck, Malaysia and thank you to all voters for carrying out your responsibility to the nation”. AGENCIES

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