UMNO respects PM Ismail Sabri’s prerogative to seek parliament dissolution, says party president
KUALA LUMPUR: United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that the party respects the prerogative of the prime minister to advise the Malaysian king on the dissolution of parliament.
“That is not the party’s power. We respect the prerogative of the prime minister. If possible I would prefer it done yesterday,” Ahmad Zahid told reporters on Tuesday (Oct 4) after meeting with UMNO division leaders at the party headquarters.
Ahmad Zahid was asked if the party had given Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob a deadline to seek a dissolution of parliament.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Ismail Sabri was reported as saying that he will soon have an audience with King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.
Without specifying the agenda of the meeting to be held on Thursday, the prime minister noted that the decision on when to dissolve parliament is his prerogative.
Speculation is intense that Mr Ismail Sabri might dissolve parliament after the tabling of Budget 2023 on Friday.
Under the Federal Constitution, it is the prerogative of the prime minister to decide when the election is called, although the king must first give his consent to dissolve parliament.
Ahmad Zahid told reporters on Tuesday that he was confident that the king would be guided by the constitution in giving his consent to the request from the prime minister.
“The king would act in accordance with the Federal Constitution and we are confident that the king will consent to the dissolution based on what is best for the people," said Ahmad Zahid.
He has been very vocal in pushing for snap polls, ostensibly to seek a fresh mandate from the people.
Ahmad Zahid, who is facing 47 charges of criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering, said that the meeting with UMNO leaders from its 191 divisions on Tuesday was the last one before Malaysia’s 15th General Election (GE15).
He said that the UMNO candidates to stand in GE15 would be decided by the party’s top five leaders and that this would be based on the criteria of electability, acceptability, and likeability.
“Whoever fulfils these criteria can become a candidate for UMNO and represent Barisan Nasional,” he said, adding that no candidates from the party would belong to any particular “cluster”.
Mr Ismail Sabri also attended the Tuesday meeting with UMNO division heads.
UMNO’s supreme council had last week decided that parliament must be dissolved soon so that GE15 can be held this year.
In a statement issued after the supreme council meeting last Friday, UMNO secretary-general Ahmad Maslan said that based on the party’s decision, Mr Ismail Sabri in his capacity as prime minister would present the proposed dissolution date to the king in accordance with the Federal Constitution.
Mr Ismail Sabri who is also UMNO vice-president currently heads the government alongside Perikatan Nasional’s (PN), Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) and other parties. However, there have been signs that UMNO and PN will be entering the election as opponents.
Mr Ismail Sabri took over as prime minister following the resignation of Mr Muhyiddin Yassin on Aug 16, 2021, after the latter failed to command the majority support of parliamentarians.
The five-year mandate of the current government will expire in July 2023, and GE15 must be held within 60 days of the dissolution of parliament.