Malaysia elections set May 9 with short campaign period

Mahathir Mohamad says Chinese investors will face tougher scrutiny if he wins back power in the upcoming election

"The EC has held a meeting and established that polls must be held within 60 days of the date of dissolution", EC chairman Hashim Abdullah told reporters, before adding that the election would take place on 9 May.

Mohd Hashim bin Abdullah (2nd R), chairman of Malaysia's Election Commission, attends a press conference in Putrajaya April 10, 2018.

Malaysia's Election Commission (EC) has invited 14 countries to participate in the May 9 polls as foreign observers.

Polling day will be on a Wednesday, an unusual move as national elections in Malaysia are usually held at a weekend. Ramadan, a major festive period for the Muslim-majority country, begins on May 15.

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Analysts say the switch to hold the vote on a working day might in the reduction of voter turnout that may disadvantage the opposition led by former strongman Mahathir Mohamad, Asia's longest serving chief for 22 years sooner than he retired in 2003.

Mahathir, who now leads a four-party opposition alliance, said the weekday vote was undemocratic because urban voters and about half a million Malaysians working in Singapore would find it hard to return to their hometowns to vote. Candidates will contest 222 parliamentary seats and 505 state seats, including all states except the eastern Borneo state of Sarawak, which conducted its state election in 2017.

The announcement came after parliament was dissolved at the weekend, setting the stage for one of the sternest ever tests of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition during its six decades in power.

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