KUALA LUMPUR: The drama of Nomination Day will play out this morning, marking the start of what is expected to be the most fiercely-contested general election in a very long time.
After weeks of speculation, a blend of excitement, colour and noise will be in abundant supply as the candidates and their processions head for the nomination centres where they will meet their rivals face to face, many for the first time.
There were several last-minute changes to the list of candidates, not only in the Barisan Nasional but also in the opposition camp.
Election Commission deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar has predicted the most crowded race in Malaysian election history with some 5,000 nomination papers snapped up.
He said people were still buying nomination forms yesterday.
Wan Ahmad said a record number of independent candidates were expected to join the fray.
Barisan secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said it was all systems go on the coalition's side.
“We are ready for the fiercest battle ever. The other side wants power while we want to retain power. We hope things will not get tensed up.
“We have told our supporters that they should not cause any untoward incident,” he said.
Tengku Adnan said he expected a large number of independent candidates and noted that some discontented opposition members had opted to go solo.
“We believe there will be many three-cornered fights. We believe Malaysians are rational and will vote for a good and prosperous future for the country,” said the former Putrajaya MP who was expecting such a fight in his constituency.
On the eve of nomination, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is leading the Barisan into polls for the first time as the prime minister, with a “People First” manifesto, returned to his Pekan parliamentary constituency and joined local residents to perform evening prayers at Masjid Sultan Abu Bakar.
He will file his nomination papers at Dewan Konvensyen Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Maran today.
PAS election director Dr Hatta Ramli said things were going as planned.
“We expect a festive atmosphere on Nomination Day, perhaps small processions. We expect a show of force but we have told our supporters to behave themselves. I do not think the two groups will meet as the police will have planned separate areas for them,” he said.
PKR leader R. Sivarasa said despite a good number of independent candidates expected, “the majority of Malaysians will not be bothered by them as they know the essential fight is between Pakatan and Barisan.”
The general election will also usher in unprecedented scenes DAP candidates will head to nomination centres with two sets of appointment letters one from the DAP and one from the PKR or PAS.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia has also broken ranks and will field its own candidates in the state seats of Jelapang (Perak) and Semenyih (Selangor) following a deadlock in negotiations with their PKR ally.
A total of 1,767 nomination forms have been snapped up for parliamentary seats, of which 301 were bought by independent candidates.
As for state seats, 3,229 forms were sold with the independents grabbing 696 of them.
There are a total of 222 parliamentary and 505 state seats up for grabs.
Candidates will submit their forms between 9am and 10am.
The EC will have a press conference at noon to announce an analysis of the Nomination Day, including the number of independents contesting and which areas would see three-cornered fights.
Polling is set for May 5.
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