Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the dissolution of parliament on Friday, officially kicking off election season in the country two months before the end of his five-year term.
The election will pit Mr. Najib who vows to make Malaysia great again. He is already burdened by a multi-billion dollar scandal linked to a state fund.
Najib, 64, will face the 92-year-old opposition leader Mahathir Mohammad.
Dr. Mathir was an architect of the affirmative action program for Malays, who were discriminated during the British rule. He served 22 years as the country’s leader before retiring in 2003 and has come back determined to topple the party he once led.
“It’s like a civil war,” said Fahmi Fadzil, the communications director for the opposition People’s Justice Party. “I’ve never seen the country so divided.”
Najib’s announcement comes on the back of robust growth for Malaysia. It is buoyed by a recovery in global crude oil prices including increased trade & infrastructure investment from its largest trade partner, China.
The polling must be held within 60 days from the dissolution. The EC will announce the date of the nationwide election next week.
The governing alliance appears to have focused on creating a condition for Mr. Najib’s re-election. The government body temporarily deregistered Dr. Mahathir’s new political party for incomplete paperwork. The party will not be allowed to campaign before it gets right.
“There is no rule of law in this country,” Dr. Mahathir said at a news conference late Thursday night. “Najib is cheating to win elections by paralyzing his opponents.”
Earlier this week, Leader of Barisan Nasional Party Mr. Najib promised to give raises to the country’s 1.6 million civil servants. The PM had also vowed to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on police officers if his party wins.