Thursday, 2 May 2013

Hotly Contested Elections -- Can You Be Bought?

Najib now needs to win this election in order to rule Malaysia under his own mandate – but analysts conjecture that if the BN were to lose any more seats on Sunday, Najib could easily be replaced as leader of the country.

That may explain why Najib's party, Umno, has invested heavily in this election, says Malaysia expert Bridget Welsh at Singapore Management University. According to Welsh's research, Najib's administration has spent nearly 60bn ringgit (£13bn) on "election-related incentives" in the past four years, making this the most costly runup to any election in Malaysia's history.

Billboards around the country allude to the incumbent coalition as aproduk, or product, that lasts. Voters have been offered food coupons and cash for attending Umno meetings, while Najib himself has handed out thousands of cash bonuses to state-linked corporate employees.

"There is a clear orientation to find potential groups of voters, identify their immediate needs, and provide it," Welsh recently wrote in online news portal Malaysiakini. "The bottom line in the BN's strategy is that it assumes Malaysians can be bought."

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