Malaysian PM leans toward early vote

Malaysian PM leans toward early vote

Ismail says he's ready to dissolve parliament once he's confident his party can win

Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob joins Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha during a state visit to Thailand on Feb 25. (Reuters Photo)
Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob joins Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha during a state visit to Thailand on Feb 25. (Reuters Photo)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob says he will dissolve parliament once he is confident of his party’s victory in the next general election.

The premier said he would discuss the matter with top leaders of the United Malays National Organization (Umno). 

“If we are confident about winning, we won’t wait even for a second to dissolve parliament to hold the 15th general election,” Ismail said in a speech to Umno members during the group’s annual general assembly on Saturday. 

Ismail is under pressure from his party to bring forward the general election that is due by July next year, following a string of landslide wins in state polls. He rose to power in August last year with the support of 114 lawmakers in the 220-member parliament, and Umno is seeking to increase its majority through a nationwide vote. 

Ismail had earlier cautioned against undermining the king on the matter of elections. Under the Malaysian constitution, the king has the power to dissolve parliament on the advice of the prime minister, and an election must be held within 60 days of dissolution. 

Umno’s annual general assembly, which began on Wednesday night and ran through Saturday, was dominated by debates on the general election. 

“God willing, this may be Umno’s final general assembly before the national election,” party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in his speech capping the assembly on Saturday.

Ismail and the opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan last year signed a memorandum of understanding on political stability, following a series of short-lived coalitions that brought the country three prime ministers since 2018. The agreement stipulates that parliament cannot be dissolved before July 31 this year.

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