Viet Nam News
KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak chaired a cabinet meeting on Friday, official media reported, as speculation mounted he was due to dissolve parliament later in the day for a tough election battle.
Najib and other members of the cabinet arrived at his office in the administrative capital Putrajaya, state-run news agency Bernama reported.
He is expected to announce the dissolution of parliament later on Friday, paving the way for a general election that poses one of the sternest tests of his ruling coalition for 60 years, due to a massive financial scandal and a challenge from his one-time mentor and former leader Mahathir Mohamad.
After parliament is dissolved, the election commission will hold a meeting within days to set the date for the poll, which must take place within weeks.
The ruling coalition headed by Najib has seen its support drop in recent years, and a scandal surrounding sovereign wealth fund 1MDB that captured global headlines has added to their unpopularity.
Billions of dollars were allegedly looted from the fund that Najib set up, in a seemingly audacious campaign of fraud and money-laundering which is being investigated in several countries.
The leader and fund deny any wrongdoing.
Najib has so far weathered the 1MDB scandal by lurching sharply to the right with a crackdown that has seen numerous critics arrested, and analysts believe he is on course to win a third term.
He stoked further controversy last week by pushing a law through parliament to redraw the electoral map that critics say greatly tilts the election in favour of his ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
Victory is however less certain due to the return of Mahathir, who ruled Malaysia at the head of BN for 22 years but has now joined the opposition, and enjoys much support among the country’s Muslim Malay majority. — AFP