Report: GE15 date decision on the cards as Umno supreme council meets tonight

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 6 — The date of the 14th Parliament’s dissolution, which will pave the way for the 15th general election, may be decided tonight when ruling party Umno’s supreme council meets.

Citing unnamed sources, news portal The Malaysian Insight reported November as a possible date for polls.

“Parliament will be dissolved by the second week of October and polls will take place a month after that,” a Barisan Nasional (BN) leader was quoted as saying.

Dewan Rakyat reconvenes next Monday with Budget 2023 scheduled for tabling on October 7.

According to the report, Parliament may be dissolved as early as October 12.

The BN government under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad made a similar move in 1999, tabling the Budget for the following year and then dissolving Parliament to pave the way for election before it was passed.

The 14th Parliament’s term will automatically end in July next year and a general election must be called within 60 days.

But it is understood that the general election this time could be held within four weeks of Parliament’s dissolution, depending on how many states with expiring mandates dissolve their respective legislatures.

Sarawak, Sabah, Melaka and Johor have already held state polls in the last two years.

Several other state leaders like Penang, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu have so far indicated that they will go for a full term rather than dissolve their state assemblies early.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who returned last night from the United Arab Emirates, hinted on September 17 that a general election would be held soon pending discussions with top Umno leaders.

Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said in August that Ismail had said election would be held this year.

Ismail Sabri is Umno vice-president who broke party and national history by becoming prime minister instead of those above him in the hierarchy.

In 2018, then prime minister Najib Razak went almost the full five-year term, only announcing Parliament’s dissolution on April 6, weeks before his mandate expired.

The 2018 general election was held just a month later on May 9, and for the first time on a weekday — Wednesday — sparked outrage and pushed many to raise funds to ensure a full turnout, which led to BN’s historic loss.

Pakatan Harapan (PH) ended up with 121 seats in the 222-seat Parliament with Dr Mahathir becoming prime minister for the second time.

In the current Parliament, Ismail Sabri leads a coalition of 115 MPs, excluding Pekan MP Najib, who has been convicted and jailed 12 years. Two other seats are vacant due to deaths.

“It depends on the Election Commission but I think a general election this time will be held on a weekend, not a weekday like the last time or people will get angry again,” an Umno source told The Malaysian Insight.

The source also said BN will go ahead despite criticism that the polls would be held just after the government tables the budget and during the year-end monsoon season that typically causes flash floods.

“Look, the current government is pretty much a dysfunctional coalition of those who will contest against each other when polls are announced. Better to end this charade now and get a government with a clear mandate,” he added.

BN ended up leading the government in August last year after the PH government collapsed in February 2020 when Bersatu decided to quit the administration led by Dr Mahathir.

Bersatu then formed the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition government comprising BN and PAS, together with support from Sarawak parties. That coalition government fell apart when Bersatu president and prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin lost majority support in Parliament.

Both PH and PN have asked Ismail Sabri to hold off polls until after the December monsoon season but BN sources said that has instead hastened the polls date.

“Our political foes claim we are useless so isn’t it better to have the polls and get a competent government to manage and mitigate the effects of the floods if it happens?” one source asked.

In a statement yesterday, the Meteorological Department issued caution that the inter-monsoon season is expected to start from next Monday until the end of November with winds and evening thunderstorms that could cause flash floods.