Ketereh Umno chief Annuar Musa today questioned calls for an early general election, warning that Barisan Nasional’s (BN) success in the recent Johor polls could not be taken as an accurate measure of the party’s strength.
Annuar, who is communications and multimedia minister in Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s Cabinet, said while Umno had succeeded in taking Johor with a sizeable majority in the March 12 election, voter turnout had been low at just under 55%.
He said Umno should exercise patience and conduct further studies into what would happen if the voter turnout increased, and whether such a scenario would benefit the party at the 15th general election (GE15).
“What would happen with a voter turnout of 80%?” he asked in an interview with Astro Awani today.
“The additional voters – who would they comprise? Who didn’t vote, and if they do turn out at the general election, will they side with us?”
Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan had previously urged for GE15 to be held as soon as possible, saying that now was the best time for the party to act.
“Strike while your enemy is weak, and strike while the iron is hot. Don’t wait for them (opposition) to regroup, like during the 14th general election,” he said in his speech to officiate the Youth, Wanita and Puteri Umno assemblies at the World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
Annuar however said that BN’s success in Johor and Melaka could not be taken as an indicator of strength as both states were seen as Umno strongholds where it would be difficult for other parties to match its machinery.
While Johor Umno appeared to be one of the party’s strongest divisions in terms of finances, logistics, manpower, members and leadership, it had still needed a great deal of external help to emerge victorious in the March 12 election, he added.
“Even though PAS was there, PAS is not strong in Melaka and Johor,” he said.
“Would the same thing happen in Terengganu, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Perak? This needs to be studied, too.
“It’s not wrong to be happy and to feel like we are strong, but let us not fall into a trap of our own making,” he added.
On calls for GE15 to be held, Annuar said the matter should be thoroughly scrutinised as the present government comprises a number of parties, of which Umno is only a minority.
Based on the constitution, he said, any proposal for the dissolution of Parliament must include a decision by the prime minister and Cabinet before being brought to the Agong.
“Say the prime minister agrees to dissolve Parliament but the others do not agree. He must then resign as he has lost their confidence,” he said.
“When he resigns, the present government has the right to appoint a new prime minister. A new party might replace Umno.”
He added that he was not against the suggestion, but wanted the party to discuss it first.