News / Asia

Malaysia's Anwar Raises Voter Fraud Alarm Ahead of Poll

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is greeted by his supporters after an election campaign rally in Petaling Jaya outside Kuala Lumpur, May 1, 2013.
Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is greeted by his supporters after an election campaign rally in Petaling Jaya outside Kuala Lumpur, May 1, 2013.
Reuters
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said on Thursday that tens of thousands of "dubious'' voters may have been flown in to key states to boost the government's chances in this weekend's election, an accusation denied by the ruling coalition.

Electoral fraud is a sensitive issue in Malaysia, where a civil society movement has sprung up to demand electoral reforms in increasingly large street  protests. A narrow victory by the ruling coalition on Sunday could trigger allegations of  cheating and calls for more street protests.

Anwar said the Prime Minister's Office had been involved in arranging charter flights for voters supplied by national carrier, Malaysian Airlines. He accused the government of flying at least 40,500 individuals since April 25 on chartered flights from the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak to mainland areas.

Malaysian General Elections

-222 parliamentary seats up for grabs
-More than 570 candidates
-13.2 million voters
-Barisan Nasional coalition has been in power since 1957
-Prime Minister Najib Razak leads the UMNO, the dominant party in the BN
-Anwar Ibrahim leads the three-party PR opposition alliance
While Sabah and Sarawak are government strongholds, the mainland peninsula is home to several closely contested states, such as Selangor near Kuala Lumpur which fell to the opposition in 2008.

"The timing of this surge in arrivals and its sheer size naturally raise the question of whether they have been transported here surreptitiously to vote  in favor of the National Front,'' Anwar said in an emailed statement.

A government spokesman denied the accusation. He said the flights were part of a normal "get out the vote'' campaign and had been paid for by "friends'' of the ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition.

The National Front faces a resurgent opposition led by Anwar, who was finance minister in the 1990s and later jailed for six years on corruption and sodomy charges he said were trumped up. It could be the closest election since the Southeast Asian country won independence from Britain in 1957.

Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, secretary general of the United Malays National Organization, which dominates the ruling coalition, said the flights were normal  electoral practice.

"The flights in question were organized and paid for by friends of Barisan Nasional. They brought registered voters to their home districts so that they may vote in the upcoming election,'' he said in a statement.

Anwar released what he said were leaked e-mails from Malaysian Airlines officials showing the flag carrier had proposed a schedule to ferry voters and election workers in chartered planes from Sabah and Sarawak to mainland Malaysia.

Reuters has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of the documents. Malaysia Airlines declined to comment.

Anwar's alliance surged to its best-ever election result in 2008, gaining support from ethnic Chinese and Indians disillusioned with race-based policies favoring majority Malays and discontent over a lack of political and economic reform.

Sabah is a key entry point for foreigners from the Philippines and Indonesia, who have fuelled a five-fold surge in Sabah's population since the early 1970s and turned it into a vote bank for the ruling coalition.

A Royal Commission of Inquiry is currently under way in Sabah to investigate allegations that immigrants were given identity cards in exchange for voting for the government under a secret plan approved by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad  in the 1980s.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs