Malaysia PM will not 'wait even one second' to dissolve parliament if UMNO's victory is assured
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) will not “wait even one second” to dissolve parliament once it is confident of winning the next general election.
Speaking at the close of the four-day UMNO General Assembly on Mar 19, Mr Ismail Sabri said he would discuss the matter with the party's top leaders - including president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, deputy president Mohamad Hasan and his fellow vice-presidents.
“If we are confident of winning, we will not wait even one second to dissolve parliament for GE15 (the 15th general election),” Mr Ismail Sabri told the party's delegates in his speech.
“All of us up here (on stage) want Barisan Nasional (BN) to become the dominant party again in the country,” Mr Ismail Sabri said.
The prime minister said he had been asked during the four-day convention why the government took such a long time to decide to allow another round of withdrawals from the country’s Employees Provident Fund (EPF) retirement scheme.
Mr Ismail Sabri had announced on Wednesday that contributors would be allowed to withdraw RM10,000 from their EPF accounts, although he urged them to only do so if their situations were "truly pressing".
“We wanted to announce the withdrawal during the Johor state election. Suddenly, the opposition parties, everyone was calling for the withdrawal to be permitted, and they would be claiming credit.”
“Hence I said the more appropriate date was to announce the withdrawal was during UMNO’s General Assembly, to let people understand that it was UMNO’s struggle that led to the RM10,000 withdrawal being approved,” he told the crowd.
During the general assembly, Mr Mohamad urged the party to maintain its unity, reminding them that although the party had won both the Melaka and Johor state elections, that was because the opposition was also in disarray.
“In politics, everything is possible, so don’t wait for them to unite,” he told the delegates.
The deputy president also reiterated that the top leadership would meet to discuss GE15 after a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the opposition expires on Jul 31.
BN IS READY FOR BUSINESS: AHMAD ZAHID
UMNO president Ahmad Zahid, who was the final speaker, said the BN coalition was “ready for business”.
“BN is ready, that is why I told all three representatives from the other component parties and Friends of BN, do not only (get) busy to get more seats.”
“Get ready to work hard, work smart, to win over the hearts and the minds of the people,” he told party delegates.
Ahmad Zahid also announced he wanted to propose a motion that UMNO’s main objective was to become the dominant government.
“We also want to be the government at both levels, state and federal. And thirdly, we must carry out internal preparations by creating a political school which will be known as the ‘People’s Democracy Centre’,” he said.
This centre, he said, would be chaired by UMNO vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin while the chief executive officer would be former Perak chief minister Zambry Abdul Kadir.
Following trial and error in the Melaka and Johor state elections and after leadership discussions on GE15, Ahmad Zahid said, it was his aim to have at least 70 per cent of the candidates as new faces.
“Our team will ensure that all three wings (UMNO Women, UMNO Youth and UMNO Puteri) will have candidates,” he said.
“Based on what the PM said, his announcements earlier, this might be the last UMNO General Assembly before the elections,” he told the delegates.
Speaking in a press conference after the general assembly, Ahmad Zahid said UMNO was proposing for national polls to be held based on "internal and external factors".
"We feel political stability needs to return to the country," he said.
He added that the party was not pressing the prime minister on the issue as it respects that the Cabinet will make a decision on the dissolution of parliament before the prime minister presents such a decision to the king.
As for the timeline, Ahmad Zahid said the MOU signed between the government and the opposition on bipartisan cooperation would expire in July.
"Whether the general election should be held before or after the deadline, although we respect the MOU, a few political considerations will be the basis for the prime minister when using his discretion and wisdom to decide," he said.
Asked on UMNO's candidate for the prime minister's post in the next general election, Ahmad Zahid said it is the king's prerogative to appoint the top leader.
"As you know, in Johor, our poster boy was Hasni but everybody knows the result," he said, referring to the surprise candidacy change for the Johor chief minister's post after the state election.
"So I think for this coming general election - as you know our prime minister is now Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob - but I don’t think the poster boy is the material for us to promote now or later because it's up to Tuanku Agong to decide later," he said.
However, he added that the matter would definitely be discussed within UMNO.