Maldives opposition takes heart from historic Malaysia elections

Maldives opposition has been given renewed hope in their fight for democracy by the surprise opposition victory in Malaysia’s general election on Wednesday which marked extraordinary comeback for Mahathir Mohamad, the 92-year-old former prime minister.

Malaysian voters have decisively rejected Najib Razak — the prime minister who was once Mr Mahathir’s protégé but fell out with him over the 1MDB corruption scandal — and pushed the United Malays National Organisation (Umno) and its coalition out of power for the first time since independence in 1957.

For the Maldives opposition - set for crucial presidential elections in September - would take heart that the Maldivian people would follow suit by rejecting incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom - a close friend of Najib who has similarly been dogged by corruption scandals and authoritarianism.

"Congratulations to the Joint Opposition for the stunning win over kleptocracy.Maldives is so akin to Malaysia. Next is the turn for Maldivians to kick out the Kleptocrat," outspoken opposition lawmaker Ahmed Mahloof said on Twitter.

The shock election result in Malaysia has sparked similar sentiments from top opposition with opposition lawmaker Imthiyaz Fahmy saying, "Malaysia has said no. Now its Maldives' turn."

Mahathir has promised to arrange a pardon for one-time opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and to install him as prime minister, even though it was Mahathir who sacked and persecuted Anwar (now in jail for the second time on dubious sodomy charges) in the first place.

Similarly, Maldives opposition has also pinned their hopes on the election to free their leaders - all jailed under more than contentious charges.