The Malaysian opposition leader has accused the government of chartering planes and flying in tens of thousands of “imported voters” to boost its chances, ahead of an election on Sunday that is likely to be the most closely-watched since the country won independence.
The government has denied the allegation.
In the latest of a series of accusations of electoral malpractice, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said the office of the Prime Minister had been arranging flights using national carrier Malaysia Airlines and private carrier Air Asia. He claims a minimum of 40,500 people were flown on chartered flight on April 25 from the states of Sabah and Sarawak – located on the island of Borneo – to mainland areas. While Sabah and Sarawak are government strongholds, the mainland peninsula is home to several electoral battles that are much closer.
“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 favour of the National Front,” Mr Anwar said in a statement.
The Malaysian government, headed by Prime Minister Najib Razak, failed to respond to questions. However a spokesman for the ruling coalition denied the accusations and said the flights were part of a normal “get out the vote” effort that were paid for by friends of the National Front bloc.
Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, secretary general of the United Malays National Organisation, which dominates the ruling coalition, said the flights were normal electoral practice.
“The flights in question were organised and paid for by friends of Barisan Nasional. They brought registered voters to their home districts so that they may vote,” he told Reuters.