Who wants a snap election?...
There is an intense campaign on the part of UMNO’s core leadership to pressure Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to dissolve Parliament as soon as possible.
The front page of New Sunday Times blasts “No Rush” with an intro that reads “the PM has indicated GE15 will not be called anytime soon as there is much ‘unfinished business’, including the Covid-19 pandemic, and ensuring political stability and party preparedness.”
Consequent to the Melaka state election on 20 November and the Appeal Court judgement on former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s SRC case, there is an intense campaign on the part of UMNO’s core leadership to pressure Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to dissolve Parliament as soon as possible.
To understand the current political scenario, one must know that Ismail Sabri is only “50% UMNO” as he is very close to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s Bersatu and Perikatan Nasional coalition – a rival to UMNO in their race to gain support of the Malays.
The greatest threat to Ismail Sabri’s premiership, which has just passed its 100 days’ mark, is from the UMNO core leadership, and not any other political players.
The troika’s insistence
When I say UMNO’s core leadership, I mean the troika of Najib, President Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi and Deputy President Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan. (pix,above) The troika wants an immediate election for these three reasons:
First, the only way that Najib and Zahid can get out of jail is to ensure that UMNO wins the general election with one of them, or Mohamad Hassan, as the next Prime Minister. Najib and Zahid have caused the collapses of two governments - Pakatan Harapan and PN. Now they have no qualms to do it again, even if it is ostensibly led by an UMNO Prime Minister, as long as the two can escape jail.
Second, the troika wants GE15 to be held before UMNO’s party election, which had been postponed for up to 18 months from 30 June 2020 to 31 December 2022.
They know Ismail Sabri would use his premiership to win control over UMNO. Therefore, the only way to frustrate Ismail Sabri is to avoid party elections before GE15.
This is to enable selection of candidates under the prerogative of Zahid as party president, and not Ismail Sabri who is only one of the three vice-presidents. If the GE is called, Ismail Sabri is unlikely to be nominated as PM even if UMNO won a majority.
Third, to avoid Undi18 voters, especially when higher voter turnout would mean less chance for UMNO to win. The Melaka state election results had shown that young Malay voters swung to PN.
Ismail Sabri puts it well, “if we go ahead with it (to call an immediate election before 31 December), we will be punished…although those aged between 18 and 20 cannot vote, those aged 21 and above will punish us.”
I wrote in Citizen Tong on 28 September that:
“As a matter of fact, the parliament is due for dissolution on 16 July 2023 and election must be held before or by 16 September 2023.
“As something less serious, I would say that Malaysia’s accidental PM Ismail’s current life goal is to serve at least a day more than his predecessor.
Muhyiddin was in office for 534 days. Surely Ismail wants to avoid being “the shortest serving PM ever”. So, this could probably take us up to at least February 2023 for the next general election to be held.”
It is as clear as daylight that Ismail Sabri does not want a GE now, or even after 31 July 2022 – the expiry date for the Memorandum of Understanding that he signed with PH on 13 September.
The MoU’s discord
There are agitations that PH should withdraw from the MoU, the latest being my friend Datuk Darell Leiking of Warisan who claimed that the understanding arrangement caused the Opposition to be weak in opposing the government. I am glad that my party colleague Kota Kinabalu MP Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin has provided a very good reply.
I hope Warisan will not distance itself from PH by blaming our coalition for agreeing with the MoU. To cause the MoU to fail is akin to turkeys asking early Christmas to come. It is a self-defeating act.
The moment the MoU collapses, there will be a snap GE - a dream comes true for Najib, Zahid and Mohamad Hasan. If the troika win a majority, the two senior leaders will walk free from jail.
To avoid this and to steer Malaysia towards the right direction, there is a need for all including PH, PN and those UMNO leaders who are not aligned with Najib and Zahid to work out a compromise.
This deal is needed to carry the Ismail Sabri government, whether in minority or majority, until the end of Najib’s Federal Court judgement and the conclusion of Zahid’s cases. The nation needs a closure before going for GE.
There is also a need to ensure genuine electoral reforms are implemented in a bipartisan manner to create a level playing field for all parties to contest in GE15.
Malaysia is in uncharted waters. As leaders, we must navigate with a strategic mind. Doing otherwise may hand our opponents the gift they crave for, and shooting ourselves in the foot is still considered not a smart thing to do. - Liew Chin Tong