SINGAPORE — The stakes are high for Malaysia’s leading party and its archrival when they meet Saturday in a crucial by-election whose outcome will be decided by the Chinese minority holding the balance of power.

The United Malays National Organization (UMNO) and the theocratic Islamic Party (PAS) will trade blows in a straight fight supported by their respective Chinese allies, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and the Democratic Action Party (DAP). Their bruising contest will take place in the constituency of Sanggang, a sprawling cluster of villages and small towns right in the rural heartland of the state of Pahang.

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