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Muhyiddin, Anwar feeling confident as rival PM contenders gun for critical Malay vote

Both leaders claim to have strong support within the Malay community, with just 48 hours to go before the end of the campaign period.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
2 minute read
Anwar Ibrahim and Muhyiddin Yassin on the campaign trail for the 15th general election.
Anwar Ibrahim and Muhyiddin Yassin on the campaign trail for the 15th general election.

Muhyiddin Yassin and Anwar Ibrahim, the top two contenders for the position of prime minister, have expressed confidence of their coalition's chances at the coming polls while acknowledging the critical role of Malay support in forming the government. 

Speaking to news channel Astro Awani in separate exclusive interviews just 48 hours before campaigning closes at midnight on Friday, both leaders also claimed to have strong support within the community, in the wake of a survey focusing on the ethnic Malays' acceptance of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalitions.

Muhyiddin said the inclusion of PAS in his coalition had boosted Malay support for PN and added to his confidence of securing a simple majority to form the government.

"I think what is important for us in PN is whether the wave of Malay support is strong," he said. 

"We have already seen signs that we might be able to achieve this. We will know in three days' time what will happen. 

"If they are afraid and worried about what will happen if the country falls into the hands of a party that can be expected to bring disaster, or be involved in corruption and so on – there is such a concern, especially among the Malays. This is why our target might be in reach." 

Anwar, meanwhile, whose coalition has been battling for Malay support amid surveys showing a trust deficit among the ethnic group, dismissed claims that support for PH was on the wane in rural areas.

"This assumption is not necessarily accurate," he said. "This is why they use slander and harsh attacks on DAP, including that I am friends with DAP. 

"But I have gone down to the ground as well and analysed the issue as being that, in Malaysia, you cannot escape from the pillars of Malay culture, language, Islam, and the Malay rulers."

He said he also agreed that more time should be spent going to villages and explaining such matters to the people.

"I am satisfied because many old people and religious teachers are also unhappy with this shallow sense of morality and slander, and consider this party as one that has a religious monopoly." 

His statements and Muhyiddin's come hours after global pollster YouGov published its findings on their popularity as well as their coalition's chances at the polls.

It said Muhyiddin was the most popular prime minister candidate of the various coalitions, holding the "best impression" among 33% of voters. 

Anwar was a close second with 29%, while Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob placed third with 22% expressing positive views about him.

YouGov also concluded that PH could secure the largest share of votes at 35%, although it stopped short of naming the coalition as the winner. In the second place was PN with 20%, followed by BN with 17%.