KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad has called on the armed forces and the police to ensure that their personnel, as well as members of the public, are able to vote freely in the coming election.
He posted the letters on Facebook on Wednesday (May 2).
"In this 14th general election, I, full of hope, urge the generals and commanding officers to encourage the personnel under you to vote without any coercion or restrictions from any parties," Dr Mahathir wrote in a letter dated Apr 30, addressed to the heads of the army, navy and the nation's air force.
"They should be given the freedom to choose."
In another letter dated Apr 25, addressed to members of the police and armed forces, Dr Mahathir said there should "not be any threats against (them) to not vote for the opposition".
It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 members of the armed forces and over 150,000 police officers in Malaysia.
Last month, the head of Malaysia's armed forces told troops to give their "undivided loyalty to our country and the government led by the prime minister", reported news portal Malaysiakini.
This group, like other civil servants, are typically viewed as "pro-ruling party", with opposition politicians arguing that they are afraid of being found out for fear of repercussions should they vote for the opposition.
But the Election Commission insists that votes cast in Malaysia are secret.
In another letter to United Malays National Organisation members dated Apr 17, Dr Mahathir urged them to give him a chance by voting for him and the party he founded, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
He said: "Bersatu is challenging UMNO not because it is UMNO. We oppose it because it is no longer UMNO. The foundation of UMNO's struggles has been destroyed by PM Najib..."
Dr Mahathir said that he had been a member of UMNO since 1946 and would not have left the party if not for a "major aberration".
"Surely you, who fought with me to develop the nation and our faith, are not now with Najib, the destroyer of the country?"
It was Dr Mahathir who had advocated for Mr Najib to take over from Mr Abdullah Badawi, a move that he now regrets.
It was also Dr Mahathir who picked Mr Abdullah as his successor but their subsequent fallout led to the former first quitting UMNO in 2008.
Dr Mahathir's alliance with Anwar Ibrahim and other former political foes had also left voters in a dilemma.