More than 2,000 cases of arson, fighting and other election-related crimes have been recorded by police since Malaysia’s parliament was dissolved for polls that will determine whether Najib Razak’s government can extend its five-decade grip on power. “The violence is much more than previous elections,” Irene Fernandez, co-chairwoman of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections’ code of conduct committee, said by phone. “The increased tension is being driven by the fear of racial riots” and broader implementation of Islamic law that’s being created by the media among non-Muslims, she said. Campaign booths and motorbikes were burned and flags and billboards torn down as police received reports of 315 incidents yesterday alone, Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf, assistant commissioner of police, told reporters in Kuala Lumpur today. In southern Johor state, bordering Singapore, one political supporter was allegedly choked by five men, he said.
Prime Minister Najib’s government is facing its fiercest challenge to date, after retaining power five years ago by its narrowest margin since Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957. The markets have priced in Barisan Nasional retaining power in the May 5 vote with a simple majority, though there is a growing risk of a hung parliament or the opposition gaining control, RHB Capital Bhd. (RHBC) said in an April 1 report.