PM not expected to call for GE15 soon

A snap election may jeopardise Ismail Sabri’s position as the PM

by ASILA JALIL / pic credit: Ismail Sabri Yaakob FB

BARISAN Nasional’s (BN) landslide victory in Johor on Saturday has led to growing calls for the dissolution of Parliament by some of its grassroot members and supporters but Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (picture) may not yield to the pressure to remain in power.

Talks of a fresh election have emerged, mainly driven by Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who wants the party to leverage on the “feel good” factor among voters.

A snap election would, however, jeopardise Ismail Sabri’s position as the PM given that he is not in the same faction as the Umno president.

“Ismail Sabri knows if he calls for the general election (GE15) and BN or Umno wins big, he will be out of job. He will try to delay it as much as possible.

“However, if Ahmad Zahid and Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak want to have the election soon, the preparation usually takes about two months so the earliest it could be held is in June,” University of Tasmania Asian studies Prof Dr James Chin told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) yesterday.

BN won a total of 40 seats and secured the two-third majority in the 56-member Johor state assembly. Umno contributed 33 seats for the coalition while MCA and MIC bagged four and three seats, respectively.

After BN’s victory on Saturday, Ismail Sabri was greeted with chants of “bubar Parlimen” (dissolve Parliament) at the coalition’s war room in Johor.

Bernama reported that Ismail Sabri as saying yesterday that GE15 would only be held when the relevant aspects and parties are ready.

“Ready or not, let the party leadership decide. Many more areas need to be studied. Each result would be discussed in the party. Just because one small group wants to hold the GE, we have to do it? This is a major decision, we have to discuss.

“Apart from that, there are procedures. I need to have an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to get his consent and if he grants it, only then we can hold it (GE). Wait for the right time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Dr Oh Ei Sun opined that the mainstream faction in Umno namely headed by Ahmad Zahid and Najib will make use of the party’s another thumping win in Johor after the Melaka state polls in November to call for an early election.

“Ismail Sabri would resist such calls because if the election is held soon and before the Umno’s party election then Ahmad Zahid would still be in charge of Umno.

“He would be in the position to nominate Umno candidates who will win the elections so old Umno MPs will then be controlled by Ahmad Zahid. Ismail Sabri’s position as the PM will then be quite untenable,” he told TMR.

At the same time, the Johor state election also highlighted the disunity that is present in the Opposition bloc and also raised questions to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s leadership of PKR and generally Pakatan Harapan (PH).

PH only won 12 seats with DAP securing 10 while Amanah and PKR won one each. PKR was in a losing streak after failing to get any seats in the Sarawak and Melaka state polls.

Chin said if Anwar does not step down, PH may not stand a chance to win in GE15.

“PH will not crumble because there are still a lot of good people in the coalition. However, if Anwar does not step down, I fear PH will lose the next GE.

“PH is not imploding, what is imploding is the leadership in PKR, that Anwar has made too many political mistakes and refuses to step down,” he said.

Oh said the dismal performance by PKR calls into question the party’s relevance and Anwar’s leadership.

He noted that PH will remain as a loose coalition with all the different parties and at most they would do during GE15 is to coordinate seat allocation to avoid any overlaps.

“As for PKR, it is at the verge of disintegrating. This is the third election that it lost, it won one seat but that really is just one seat away from zero.

“This really calls into question PKR’s relevance and Anwar’s leadership of PKR specifically as well as PH generally,” he added.