Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob today poured cold water on calls by a section of his party leaders for the dissolution of Parliament to pave the way for the 15th general election.
Ismail, who is also the Umno vice-president, said the matter fell under the powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
“We have to wait first. This needs consultation with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. If we set our own date, the Agong will consider that as taking over his authority,” he told reporters at the World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, where the Umno general assembly is underway.
“So let us not step into the jurisdiction of the Agong.”
Ismail, who became prime minister with the support of Perikatan Nasional and GPS after Muhyiddin Yassin’s resignation last year, has been under pressure from several party chiefs aligned with convicted former leader Najib Razak to call for polls this year.
The next general election must be held by May 2023, but observers say Najib and Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi are eager to have it earlier due to the impending court cases against them.
The calls gained momentum in the aftermath of Barisan Nasional’s election victory in Johor, where analysts say the turnout of its loyal vote bank ensured it a landslide win despite only a little over half of eligible voters casting their ballots.
Ismail had then brushed aside the calls, saying the matter would be decided through the proper procedures.
Last night, party deputy president Mohamad Hasan repeated the call for polls to be held, saying Umno must “strike while its enemies are weak”, referring to a disparate opposition.
“Don’t wait for them (the opposition) to regroup, like during the 14th general election, they… Mahathir and Anwar kissed and made up, and only then did we call for elections. Sorry Najib,” said Mohamad, referring to former leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Pakatan Harapan chairman Anwar Ibrahim’s cooperation to topple Najib in 2018.