KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysia's opposition on Thursday accused the government of transporting tens of thousands of "imported voters" to sway weekend elections, a charge vehemently rejected by the ruling coalition.
The allegation made by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim came a day after his three-party alliance and clean-election activists said Sunday's result could be skewed by revelations that indelible ink meant to halt fraud was easily washed off.
Anwar released a statement charging that at least 40,000 "dubious individuals" had been flown from Malaysian states on Borneo island to the capital Kuala Lumpur on chartered flights since last week.
"The timing of this surge in arrivals and its sheer size naturally raises the question of whether they have been transported here surreptitiously to vote in favour of (ruling coalition) Barisan Nasional," he said.
Barisan Nasional has for years denied allegations -- backed up by an ongoing inquiry -- that it illegally allowed huge numbers of foreigners including Filipinos and Indonesians into its two Borneo states in a bid to boost its voter base.
Anwar's party also produced documents it said indicated the office of Prime Minister Najib Razak was involved in the flights.
Electoral-reform advocates have warned of fraud in the election -- expected to be the closest in the country's history.
They allege the electoral roll is rife with irregularities that could open the door to "phantom voters" being brought in to tip the balance in closely fought seats.
The government acknowledged the chartered flights were taking place but insisted they were registered voters being returned to their homes in a "get out the vote" drive for Barisan Nasional (BN).
"The flights in question were organised and paid for by friends of BN. They brought registered voters to their home districts so that they may vote in the upcoming election," Adnan Mansor, a top coalition official, said.
"There is no substance whatsoever to opposition allegations that passengers were anything other than registered Malaysian voters."
A government official denied Najib's office was involved in the flights.
Malaysia has been on edge over the polls, with campaigning marred by hundreds of reports of election violence, including an improvised bomb that went off at a ruling-party event, injuring one person.The ruling bloc has controlled Malaysia since independence in 1957 but faces the strongest opposition in the country's history, led by Anwar, a one-time Barisan heir-apparent ousted 15 years ago in a bitter power struggle.