Najib Abdul Razak has purportedly said that he is opposed to calling a snap general election prior to the expiry of the mandate for his administration in 2018.
In a Reuters report, Najib is quoted as telling a news conference in Berlin that the decision to call an early election should not be based on “any single factor”.
“We rest on our record. We have a strong record and we will continue to tell the Malaysian people that our government is still the best choice,” he is quoted as saying.
However, pro-Umno portal MyKMU.net claimed the prime minister’s remarks had been taken out of context.
The portal said the prime minister was asked if a snap polls would be held due to the 1MDB issue, to which he replied, “The question of election is not due to any single factor”.
“It must be predicated on the basis that we have good policies in Malaysia. We are delivering for the benefit of the people and we are the best government to lead Malaysia into the future,” Najib had added, according to MyKMU.net.
There has been widespread speculation that a snap general election would be held as early as in the first quarter of next year.
Some pundits believe that to delay the election could prove detrimental for Najib and BN, as it would provide a window to the fragmented opposition to reconsolidate.
Apart from this, it would also provide Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) with an opportunity to establish itself in the political arena.
Najib’s administration is still reeling from the allegations surrounding 1MDB and the US Department of Justice’s civil case regarding the matter.
Therefore, pundits claim the prime minister would choose to capitalise on the current convoluted political climate and the disillusionment among opposition supporters to seek a fresh mandate.
Najib’s predecessors have also kept their cards close to their chests with regard to holding an election, some even issuing last-minute denials.
On Feb 12, 2008, then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had dismissed speculation that the Parliament would be dissolved within the next 24 hours.
He had also dispelled the media’s queries if the cabinet meeting slated for the next day would be the last before the election is called.
“What makes you think it’s going to be the last cabinet meeting?
“The cabinet meeting will go on, go on and go on. You are the smart aleck, you all enjoy circulating the rumours,” Abdullah had said.
The following day, Abdullah announced the dissolution of Parliament, and when asked about his earlier denial, he replied: “I couldn’t give any indication on the election date… The Yang di-Pertuan Agong has to give consent first.”
On hindsight, perhaps the former prime minister wished he had waited a little longer, since the 2008 general election witnessed unprecedented changes to the Malaysian political landscape.
For the first time since independence, the ruling coalition lost its two-thirds parliamentary majority and saw several states falling into opposition hands.
Opposition preparing for snap polls
Similarly, opposition leaders also found it difficult to believe that the prime minister would not hold a snap election, let alone disclose when he planned to do so.
“Never before has a prime minister, who has the prerogative to choose when Parliament is dissolved, revealed the date of a general election, thus diminishing the advantage of that prerogative,” Bersatu pro-tem vice-president Mukhriz Mahathir told Malaysiakini.
PAS vice-president Idris Ahmad and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) communications director Khalid Samad believe that the 14th general election is around the corner.
“The longer he waits, the more he has to lose,” Idris said, a point which Khalid echoed.
DAP organising secretary Anthony Loke and PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli also said that their respective parties are preparing for a snap election.