Make wise decision on election timing, says UMNO women wing chief as calls for polls grow at general assembly
KUALA LUMPUR: Any decision by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) regarding the timing for the next general election should be done in a “prudent, mature and wise” fashion, said its women’s wing chief Noraini Ahmad.
Delivering her policy speech on Thursday (Mar 17) on the second day of UMNO’s 2021 general assembly, Dr Noraini said the women's wing is always ready in answering party deputy president Mohamad Hassan’s call for a snap general election.
UMNO’s supporters are enthusiastic about the 15th general election (GE15) following UMNO’s victories in the Melaka and Johor state elections, she said.
“However, we have to realise that people are watching and observing us.”
“At the same time, the party has to take into account the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Political Stability and Transformation between the government and opposition bloc, which is set to expire after Jul 31 this year.
“Therefore, any of our actions and decisions must be made in a prudent, mature and wise manner,” Dr Noraini said, adding that the women's wing believed the party president and the supreme council would make the best decision when proposing an “accurate and appropriate” time to the prime minister.
At the start of the four-day convention on Wednesday, Mr Mohamad said UMNO should call general election while the opposition is weak, and that the party is resurgent on a string of by-election and state election victories.
Mr Mohamad, the former chief minister of Negeri Sembilan, called for the party to “strike while the iron was hot”.
This prompted the opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) to declare that the snap polls will not be called in states held by them. The state assemblies will not be pre-maturely dissolved before the five-year term expires next year, they added.
PH currently rules Selangor, Penang and Negeri Sembilan, while PAS helms the state governments of Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah.
"This decision was made taking into account the economic situation of the people who are still severely affected by the massive floods, the COVID-19 pandemic, declining incomes as well as the soaring cost of living," PH's presidential council said in a statement on Thursday.
PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan, meanwhile, was quoted by Bernama as saying: "In fact, considering the factor that the country is still battling COVID-19, we feel there is no need for the three states to hold state elections."
UMNO NEEDS VICTORY TO REGAIN LOST PRIDE: YOUNG WOMEN'S WING CHIEF
The chiefs of UMNO’s youth and young women's wings also called for an earlier general election in their policy speeches on Thursday.
UMNO Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said there is no choice but to return the mandate to the people.
“There is no more excuse for us to deny the people’s right to determine stability. Three state elections - Sarawak, Melaka and Johor - have been carried out safely, without problems and full of orderliness,” he pointed out.
Dr Asyraf said a democratic country needs its citizens to endorse the legitimacy of a government. “Only with a new mandate can a strong and stable government be founded,” he said.
Mdm Zahida Zarik Khan, who led UMNO’s Puteri (young women) wing, called for party vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who is also Malaysia’s current prime minister, to quickly dissolve parliament for GE15 to happen.
“We are already in fourth gear, and want to move to fifth. We are waiting to overdrive and speed our car to the finish line,” Mdm Zahidah said.
She said this was to obtain an absolute victory so the party could regain its lost pride from the previous election.
PARTY VETERANS WARN AGAINST PUSHING FOR GE15
Several party veterans have cautioned against discussing the timing for GE15 publicly.
Kelantan UMNO leader Annuar Musa, who is also the current Multimedia and Communications Minister, cautioned that senior party leaders should not discuss the date for GE15 publicly.
Commenting on Mr Mohamad’s Wednesday speech, Mr Annuar said such open discussion could trigger various views and result in polemics, Bernama reported.
He said the preferred dates for election should remain a party strategy after top-level discussions.
He was also quoted by Malaysiakini as saying that openly discussing the election date was "very out of place" and infringing on the Malaysian king’s royal prerogative in accepting or rejecting the dissolution of parliament.
Likewise, former federal minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz also cautioned against infringing on the royal prerogative and said that the current administration is still stable.
“Our Constitution is not like that. It is up to the discretion of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as His Majesty has the right to reject the prime minister’s advice on reasons such as the ongoing pandemic and people’s unstable economic situations.
“We must not push and there is no need to pressure Yang di-Pertuan Agong. If we pressure, it is as if we are dragging His Majesty into the political domain of the country,” he was quoted as saying by Astro Awani.
The Padang Rengas MP also cautioned that voters would punish party leaders seen deliberately pushing for the next general election to be held.