KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will hold a general election when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Saturday (Nov 28), shortly after he averted a showdown by winning parliamentary support for his administration's budget.
Parliament passed Malaysia's largest budget by a voice vote on Thursday despite weeks of threats by the opposition and some of Muhyiddin's allies to derail the government's 2021 spending plan, which could have triggered a crisis.
“Some people feel that budget 2021 should be rejected to force the general election. There is no necessity to do this," Muhyiddin said on Saturday in a speech at a virtual annual general meeting of his Bersatu party.
“If you asked me, even yesterday I might have advised Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament for the general election to be held. But we all know the problem is COVID-19."
"God willing, when COVID-19 is over, we will hold a general election," he added. "We will return the mandate to the people and leave it to them to choose which government they want."
Malaysia is facing a new wave of coronavirus infections, with cumulative cases rising more than four-fold since September to more than 63,000 as of Saturday.
Muhyiddin's eight-month-old administration has clung on with a two-seat majority in parliament, managing to fend off a leadership challenge from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and contain growing dissent in the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the largest bloc in his coalition.
Muhyiddin said he met UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi this week and they agreed to mend ties between their parties and avoid competing against each other when an election is called.
"I know the people are fed up with the unending politicking. The people want political leaders to help them, not constantly fight for power," Muhyiddin said.
The prime minister also said he believed that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition will be well-received by Malaysians in the next general election.
"Studies carried out have shown a high level of acceptance of PN among Malaysians. As such, Bersatu has decided to use the Perikatan Nasional logo in the 15th General Election," he said.
"In the Sabah state election, I made the decision to use the PN logo for the first time. Many had doubts regarding that decision. That's because PN is a new party. Yet, PN won 17 of the 29 seats contested, and together with its partners in GRS, comprising PN, BN and PBS (Parti Bersatu Sabah), managed to form the new Sabah state government."
Muhyiddin said Bersatu's decision to leave Pakatan Harapan and form PN was not an easy one, but that the decision has opened a new chapter for the party.
"We (PN) are considering applications from other political parties wanting to join PN in the near future, which will make PN a national political coalition and represent the interests of all Malaysians.
"The basics are simple. We cannot stand alone. We need our friends from other political parties to face the general election and form the government. If Bersatu stands alone, maybe can win seats but not enough to form the government,” he said.