MALAYSIA

Significant vote-buying will keep Najib in power in GE14: Kroll

Risk consulting firm Kroll said in a report said PM Najib Razak is predicted to retain power in GE14 through massive vote-buying.

“Political analysts overall agree that it remains likely UMNO-BN will retain a majority in parliament. Possibly with a reduced popular vote.

“PH faces several obstacles, including an electoral boundary shift which strongly favours the incumbents.”

Bickering within the PH camp on which seats to contest does not augur well for the opposition, it said.

“Observers should closely monitor the role of the PAS which is neither part of PH nor UMNO’s alliance. it is seen as a “kingmaker” in upcoming elections,” said the report.

But it said this will happen through significant vote-buying exercises. The report focuses on the upcoming General Elections.

“If past elections are any indication, there will be significant vote-buying exercises. Exposed companies may be instructed to donate to UMNO-related causes.”

Nonetheless, investors should be aware of elevated fraud and corruption risks in the lead-up to the election.

Especially when dealing with politically sensitive or heavily unionised industries, and sectors which are rural-focused.

The manufacturing, aviation, plantations, and agriculture sectors would be of key concern.

The ruling coalition will depend strongly on votes from workers in these industries, said the report.

Such politically-linked donations come with attendant risks; often foreign investors in exposed Malaysian companies.

They are unaware that such donations are being made, or the potential impact these donations could have.

The report also said unconfirmed rumours put the GE14 during the school holidays in mid-late March.

Nomura, a leading Japanese financial services institution, predicted that the election would be held between March and May.

It said former PM Mahathir Mohamad’s brand-name recognition is likely to give the opposition alliance a strong boost in rural areas, a major support base for UMNO.

However, Mahathir’s party Bersatu is untested.

Observers have doubts whether Bersatu will be able to wrest a sufficient number of seats in rural areas from UMNO.

“Separately, Anwar Ibrahim, the de facto leader of the opposition, is scheduled to be released from prison in June 2018.

The UN Human Rights Council deemed politically motivated sodomy charges.

The GE14 is expected to be held in the first quarter of this year.

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