KUALA LUMPUR // The Malaysian opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, said yesterday that he believed his three-party alliance could win this weekend's national election and topple a coalition that has ruled for nearly 56 years.
Sunday's poll will pit the prime minister Najib Razak's National Front coalition against Anwar's People's Alliance, which has pledged to tackle what it considers deep-rooted problems such as corruption and racial discrimination.
Mr Najib has repeatedly said that his coalition will win and regain a two-thirds parliamentary majority that it lost in 2008.
The National Front has governed since independence from Britain in 1957, but its grip on power has weakened in recent years amid complaints about a lack of government transparency and accountability.
Mr Anwar said his alliance believed it could secure a "comfortable majority", partly because of rising support among younger voters who wanted to see political change.
"God-willing, we will succeed," he said at an opposition office in a Kuala Lumpur suburb. "People have had enough of this semi-authoritarian rule, of complete [government] control of the media, of strong arrogance, of power and endemic corruption."
Mr Anwar repeated the opposition's concerns that the National Front would resort to electoral fraud to retain power.
"We have to garner larger support and get everyone out to vote so this attempt at fraud will not alter the result," he said.
The National Front denied accusations that it planned to tamper with votes. It has tried to boost its popularity in recent months by providing cash handouts to low-income households and offering other financial incentives. About 13.3 million Malaysians are eligible to cast ballots to fill 222 parliamentary seats and elect members for 12 state legislatures.
Mr Anwar, a former deputy prime minister who was fired in 1998 and jailed on sodomy charges that he claimed were fabricated by his political enemies, said the opposition would ensure a peaceful transition of power if it won the elections.
"I have said, 'no malice, no witch hunt'," he said. "Our preoccupation is to govern, govern justly."
The opposition's goals included introducing policies that would help Malaysians regardless of race and political affiliation, Mr Anwar said.
The National Front has been accused of favouring the well-connected elite among Malaysia's ethnic Malay Muslim majority and discriminating against ethnic Chinese, Indians and other minorities in policies involving education, housing, jobs, business contracts and freedom of religion.
"We want a policy that we can share and give a sense of confidence to all," Mr Anwar said. "More than half a century after independence, we don't want poor Malays to be marginalised or Chinese to feel discriminated and Indians ignored."
He added that, if his alliance lost, he would withdraw from active politics and focus on a teaching career. He said he was not indispensable and that the opposition had many other capable leaders.