PEKAN: Malaysia’s incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak was nominated on Saturday (Apr 28) to contest a parliamentary seat in his hometown Pekan in Pahang State, as the May 9 election race officially began at 9am local time.
Mr Najib, who presides the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), was the first contestant to submit nomination papers at Pekan’s Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Convention Hall. He is running as a candidate for the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional.
Having served a Pekan MP for nine consecutive terms, Mr Najib is set to contest in a four-cornered fight against Zahid Mohamad Arip, who runs under the banner of the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Ahiatudin Daud from the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) and independent contestant Abdul Kadir Sainuddin.
“We received nomination forms from four candidates. No candidates were rejected,” said an Election Commission official.
Each candidate received an individual number that will represent them on the ballot cards on May 9. They are:
No 1: Zahid Mohamad Arip (Parti Keadilan Rakyat)
No 2: Najib Razak (Barisan Nasional)
No 3: Abdul Kadir Sainuddin
No 4: Ahiatudin Daud (Malaysian Islamic Party)
The election is expected to be one of Malaysia’s fiercest political battles in decades with Mr Najib’s ruling coalition competing against opposition camp Pakatan Harapan under the leadership of his 92-year-old mentor-turned-rival and former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Prior to the nomination on Saturday, the nonagenarian ex-prime minister urged voters in Pekan to help unseat Mr Najib, who has been embroiled in a corruption scandal over state investment fund 1 Malaysia Development Berhad or 1MDB. He was accused of channelling nearly US$700 million of the fund into his personal bank accounts - a claim he has denied.
However, the 1MDB controversy is not the only factor that could jeopardise Mr Najib’s grip on power in the upcoming polls. The incumbent prime minister has been criticised for an influx of mainland China's development projects during his administration.
His home state in the East Coast Region alone is home to the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park and a deepwater port jointly developed by Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. The area also sees the construction of the US$13 billion East Coast Rail Link by the China Communications Construction Company.
In the previous polls in 2013, Pekan recorded an 85 per cent voter turnout. Mr Najib won 51,278 votes from the total of 68,218 while the opposition coalition secured 15,665.
The nomination for the 222 parliamentary and 505 state seats ended at 10am local time. Mr Najib’s UMNO and other parties under Barisan Nasional will be campaigning across the country for 11 days to ensure Barisan Nasional maintains most of the seats when Malaysians to the polls.