In the Malaysian Constitution, it is stated that General Elections need to be held once every five years, no later than two to three months after the dissolution of the government.
On Monday (10 Oct), Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob called for the dissolution of the parliament and the subsequent general election, even though an election is technically not due until September 2023.
Which means that the upcoming 15th General Election (GE15) will be happening nearly a year ahead of the deadline for the next general elections.
“In line with Article 40 (20)(b) and Article 55(2) of the Federal Constitution, His Royal Highness the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, exercised his prerogative and granted my request for the 14th Parliament to be dissolved today, Monday, 10 October 2022,” said Ismail Sabri in a special televised address.
Why Are Snap Polls Being Called?
During the speech, the 62-year-old explained that he was calling for a vote to “put an end to the criticism that this is an illegitimate, back door government.”
The current Malaysian parliament, composed of a coalition of four political parties – Barisan Nasional (BN), Perikatan Nasional (PN), Pakatan Harapan (PKR), Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) – was formed after the 2020 Political Crisis.
If you’re confused, do watch this to the end first before reading on:
Apart from the allegations of COVID-19 pandemic mishandling which led to the resignation of the former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, there has also been mounting dissatisfaction towards Ismail Sabri’s administration after its haphazard response to the floods that affected several states last December.
Aforesaid floods killed dozens of people and displaced hundreds.
Hence, Ismail Sabri has decided to return the mandate to the people, believing that the people’s mandate will be a “powerful antidote” to achieving political stability within a country.
Secondly, there has been internal pressure within Ismail Sabri’s own political party United Malays National Organisation (UMNO)–which is under Barisan Nasional with Bersatu—to call for snap polls.
(If you’re confused again, you probably haven’t watched the video above)
As early as 30 September, the UMNO supreme council has ruled that the parliament needs to be dissolved soon to make way for GE15.
The President of UMNO, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, has also been a vocal supporter of the snap poll as well, though he might be anxious to hold the elections as soon as possible before the verdict of his charges for criminal breach of trust, corruption, and money laundering comes down.
Similar to former premier Najib Razak who is currently serving his 12-year imprisonment sentence, Zahid is in serious hot waters with the judiciary as he faces a total of 47 charges.
Once the probable guilty verdict comes down, Zahid will likely lose his chance to run for a parliament seat.
Flash Flood Warnings
However, the flood warnings from Malaysia’s Meteorological Department are putting a literal dampener on things.
Due to the north-east monsoon season, which typically starts in November and ends in March, six out of 13 state governments will not be holding its state elections alongside GE15.
The six state governments – Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Kelantan, Terrangganu, and Kedah – which are currently controlled by PN and PKR, will not be following the dissolution of federal legislature, and will only hold its state elections before the September deadline next year.
This means that only three UMNO-controlled states – Pahang, Perlis, and Perak – will be holding its state elections at the same time as GE15.
The BN coalition of UMNO and Bersatu are already set to meet over the next few days to prepare for the campaign.
On the other hand, PKR are still finalising their candidates and manifesto on 29 October, while PN had been vehemently against the dissolution of the Parliament, citing the flood warnings as a reason.
Having to waddle through floodwaters to get to the polling station does not sound like anyone’s idea of fun.
Although Ismail Sabri has promised that the government has put in place sufficient safeguards to ensure that there won’t be a repeat of last year’s disaster, critics are not convinced in the least.
When asked about concerns over holding GE15 during floods, UMNO President Zahid mocked the opposition for using the floods and inflation as excuses to hold back the early general election.
He even went as far as calling it a “myth”.
Umm, you might want to look back at what happened to your country just last year.
If flooding in Florida, Pakistan, New South Wales (AUS) and Venezuela are any indication, Malaysia is in for a wet ride, and not the good kind.
In any case, the dissolution of the parliament has been called.
Malaysia’ Election Commission will be meeting some time soon to decide on a polling date, which must be held within 60 days after the parliament dissolution.
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