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BN's days of fielding a 'songkok' and expecting easy election wins in Malaysia are gone: Ismail Sabri

BN's days of fielding a 'songkok' and expecting easy election wins in Malaysia are gone: Ismail Sabri

Malaysian caretaker prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob at the UMNO annual meeting in April 2022. (Photo: Facebook/Ismail Sabri Yaakob)

BAGAN DATUK, Perak: Barisan Nasional (BN) can no longer simply field any candidate in an election and expect an easy win, said United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) vice-president and caretaker prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Mr Ismail Sabri said that unlike before, BN has to work much harder and cannot afford to be in its comfort zone due to the challenging political situation these days.

“In the past, when we contested, we were sure to win even if we fielded a ‘songkok’ (headgear worn by Malay men). But times are changing. GE14 (14th General Election) clearly showed us that we cannot merely rely on having the confidence to win many votes easily,” he was quoted as saying by Bernama on Monday (Oct 17).

“Unlike in the past, there is no more guarantee of an easy win. We now have to work very hard.”

During GE14, the BN coalition lost its 61-year hold on power to Pakatan Harapan (PH).

Mr Ismail Sabri said that BN is entering the GE15 ring not merely to compete but to win the polls with a large majority.

BN must become the dominant party in the new government, he said. 

“We will only acquire enough power for others to listen to us if we occupy at least 80 seats or a two-thirds (majority). If the party is not strong and unable to dominate, it would be difficult to make decisions and control Putrajaya,” he said. 

There are 222 seats in the Lower House.

Mr Ismail Sabri also said that parliament was dissolved so that the people could elect a new government. But this decision has been misunderstood by the opposition, he said. 

“When parliament is dissolved, the opposition should be pleased as there were many accusations about the government’s legitimacy,” he said, according to Bernama.  

“So, let the people now decide who should form the government. Out of the blue, they (the opposition) are not agreeing to parliament being dissolved to the extent that they want the matter taken to court. I do not understand what they really want.” 

According to local media, former Klang member of parliament Charles Santiago took the issue to court last week to stop the Election Commission (EC) from holding GE15, claiming that the caretaker prime minister breached several provisions in the Federal Constitution. 

An election is not due until September 2023, but Mr Ismail Sabri has been under pressure from some factions of his ruling coalition to hold the vote earlier.

UMNO’s call for an early GE15 has been criticised by the opposition and Mr Ismail Sabri’s own Cabinet members as Malaysia’s Meteorological Department has warned of floods during the north-east monsoon season. 

The EC will have a special meeting on Oct 20 to discuss and set important dates for GE15 and the state by-election for Bugaya in Sabah. 

Separately, it was reported that Mr Ismail Sabri remains the BN candidate for the post of prime minister in GE15.

"At the party level, the decision that Ismail Sabri is our 'poster boy' and candidate for the post of prime minister is final as decided by the UMNO supreme council,” the party’s president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was quoted as saying by The Star last Sunday. 

Source: Bernama/ya(aw)

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