KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy president Rafizi Ramli has launched an online petition against calling for Malaysia’s 15th general election during the year-end flood season.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday (Sep 27), he said all parties should focus on facing the floods and all other matters, which can be postponed, should be set aside.
“(Holding the) GE15 during the floods means more than RM1 billion (US$216 million) will be used to administer an election while the people’s fund should be better off being channelled to disaster management efforts.
“It also means hundreds of thousands of civil servants will have to be on duty to handle the election while they should be with volunteers assisting flood victims,” he said.
The petition on change.org has received more than 7,500 signatures as of 2pm on Wednesday.
United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), or president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in particular, has been pushing for snap polls with the intention of wresting back power.
UMNO currently forms the ruling government alongside Perikatan Nasional’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia. However, there have been signs that they will be entering the election as opponents.
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, an UMNO vice president, is facing mounting pressure to dissolve parliament, but he has yet to commit to a timeline. The present government has until September next year to hold GE15.
Ahmad Zahid’s call for GE15 does not sit well with the opposition, which insists that the monsoon season at the end of the year is not a suitable time for polls. Malaysia’s Meteorological Department had warned of floods during the north-east monsoon season, which typically starts in November and ends in March.
The Bagan Datuk MP, however, said the opposition wants to delay the general election because it is afraid of losing.
Not everyone in UMNO supports the idea of holding an early GE15 as well. Mr Khairy Jamaluddin, an UMNO minister, told reporters on Tuesday that while the Health Ministry and the Defence Ministry were getting ready to face the floods, “other people are talking about elections”.
The Election Commission had said that GE15 would cost RM1.1 billion due to the addition of five million voters, following the implementation of automatic registration for anyone aged 18 and above.
Signing off the petition as a “Malaysian citizen”, Mr Rafizi said if parliament is dissolved in one month’s time, GE15 will be held during the flood season.
“Only the voice of the people can send a clear signal that the people want politicians to focus on facing the flood disaster, and not to chase political positions through a general election,” he said.