Malaysia's Rancid Election

Malaysia's May 5 national elections are taking place against the backdrop of the most rancid ethnic and political atmosphere since 1969, when race riots shook the nation and led to the deaths of hundreds of ethnic Malays and Chinese. Campaigning, which technically is limited to the period after the election commission sets the date, has been going on for as much as two years as the ruling Barisan Nasional slugged it out with the Pakatan Rakyat. With 13 million voters registered, an estimated 25 percent of them are going to the polls for the first time, delivering what has been called a real wild card. While inflation, educational opportunity, corruption and crime are issues, they pale against the questions of power and race.

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