May 5 - Voting gets underway in Malaysia's parliamentary elections that could be the closest in more than half a century. Paul Chapman reports.
PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3 Queues were forming in Kuala Lumpur way before polling stations opened for the start of Malaysia's election showdown on Sunday. This could be the closest parliamentary election in the country's history. Voters appeared optimistic of progress whatever the final outcome. (SOUNDBITE) (English) VOTER, E.P. TAN, SAYING: "All the citizens of Malaysia wish that there will be a stable government after this election, we hope for the best." (SOUNDBITE) (English) VOTER, CHUK CHIN, SAYING: "I think whatever the result is, Malaysia will be a better country because of this election." The main stars of this drama turned out to cast their own votes in the morning. Prime Minister Najib Razak's Barisan Nasional coalition is battling to hold on to its 56-year rule. The opposition led by Anwar Ibrahim appears to stand its best chance ever to end it. (SOUNDBITE)(English) MALAYSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER ANWAR IBRAHIM SAYING: "We see, in God's will, all signs with the groundswell we are very very optimistic." The opposition alliance has been buoyed by unusually large and enthusiastic turnouts at its campaign rallies in recent days. It says that could be a surge in young first-time voters more likely to be swayed by its calls for change. There's also a swing away from the ruling coalition's brand of race-based policies which have ensured stability but generated corruption and inequality. Many analysts predict one of the world's longest-lived coalitions will hold on to power but with a reduced majority Allegations of fraud could also spur an opposition challenge to the outcome.