KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The Latest on Malaysia's election (all times local):
Malaysia's Human Rights Commission says the recent redrawing of electoral boundaries, which opposition parties said favored the ruling coalition, is an "epic breach" of democracy.
In a strong statement issued on the eve of the country's general election, the commission's chairman, Razali Ismail, said Tuesday that a level playing field for the election is also undermined by money and gifts being distributed by Prime Minister Najib Razak's ruling coalition, a practice long discarded by many democratic countries. It also criticized disqualification of several opposition candidates on nomination day.
Razali said the commission has been informed of various instances where people have had their right to vote curtailed and complaints of postal ballots not being received up to 48 hours before the election and other discrepancies.
Malaysia was ranked 125 out of 197 countries worldwide in the 2018 World Electoral Freedom Index, which the right's commission says reflects the flawed democratic process in the country.
Voters have a stark choice in Malaysia's election on Wednesday: resurrect the country's 92-year-old former authoritarian leader or give a third term to Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose alleged role in the multibillion-dollar ransacking of a state investment fund has battered Malaysia's standing abroad.
Najib's ruling party is likely to hold on to power due to an electoral system that gives more weight to rural voters, analysts say, but at the price of reduced legitimacy.
The contest pits Najib against his former political mentor, Mahathir Mohamad, who joined forces with the opposition due to the corruption scandal.
Voters also are concerned about the impact of a newly imposed tax, but racial politics remain a powerful subterranean force.