Malaysia’s opposition spinning flood, inflation narrative to delay general election: UMNO president Ahmad Zahid
KUALA LUMPUR: United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has hit out at the opposition for using the flood and inflation narrative to resist an early 15th general election (GE15).
The former deputy prime minister described the flood narrative as a “myth”.
In a Facebook statement on Tuesday (Sep 27), Ahmad Zahid said Pakatan Haparan’s (PH) real concern has more to do with the apparent lack of support among Malay voters for the opposition coalition.
“The real concern of the opposition is that Malay voters, who make up the largest percentage of the country’s population, are less interested in supporting the coalition when BN is beating the election drum,” said the Bagan Datuk MP.
“PH is pretty much deadlocked and has no choice but to ask for more time. In other words, PH is trying to ‘buy time’ to delay the general election,” he added.
Ahmad Zahid is eager to have an early poll even though GE15 is not due until September next year. The top leaders of UMNO will have a meeting this Friday, presumably to discuss the dissolution of parliament.
In his Tuesday Facebook post, Ahmad Zahid cited a report by news portal MalaysiaNow, which said that the Malay support for PH had hit an all-time low and it was expected to get less than 15 per cent of votes from this group in GE15.
He also criticised the opposition for only complaining about the risk of floods if the polls were to coincide with the year-end monsoon but failed to offer any flood relief plan or solutions to combat inflation.
Ahmad Zahid said that the opposition is more interested in thinking about the strategy to win the general election, rather than on the problems faced by the affected people.
He also chided some politicians within his own party for agreeing with the opposition that the polls should not be held during the monsoon season.
Last Thursday, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who is from UMNO, said that his ministry was of the view that it is not conducive to hold GE15 during the flood season.
He said many factors have to be taken into consideration, including manpower and public safety before deciding to hold the election.
Mr Khairy’s comments came after Ahmad Zahid’s earlier remarks that UMNO was willing “to wade through floodwater” to ensure Barisan Nasional (BN) emerged victorious in GE15.
Responding to these criticisms, Ahmad Zahid had said that GE15 should then be held immediately, if there are concerns to avoid it from coinciding with the year-end flood season.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Mr Khairy said the Health Ministry and the Defence Ministry were readying assets and other essentials to combat floods and other disasters.
"It is quite clear that other people are talking about elections but we are getting ready to face the floods to ensure the safety of the people," he was quoted as saying by the Star after a work visit to Hospital Angkatan Tentera Tuanku Mizan in Wangsa Maju, Kuala Lumpur.
PROSECUTION APPEALS AGAINST ACQUITTAL
Meanwhile, the Attorney-General’s Chambers has filed a notice of appeal after Ahmad Zahid was acquitted of 40 charges in the foreign visa system (VLN) corruption case last Friday.
Malaysian media reported that the notice was filed at the Shah Alam High Court on Monday afternoon.
“Yes, the prosecution has filed an appeal against the decision of the High Court in DS (Datuk Seri) Zahid’s case this afternoon,” Attorney-General Idrus Harun told Bernama in a WhatsApp message.
In acquitting Ahmad Zahid, the trial judge said that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against him, with the testimonies by three prosecution witnesses found to be unreliable and not credible.
Apart from the VLN case, Ahmad Zahid is also facing 47 charges of criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering, in another case involving charity foundation Yayasan Akalbudi (YAB).