Malaysia political turmoil: BN, PAS step up preparations for possible snap elections

Malaysia political turmoil: BN, PAS step up preparations for possible snap elections

UMNO President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and PAS President Hadi Awang hold hands during Ummah Unity Gather
United Malays National Organization (UMNO) President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (L) and Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) President Hadi Awang hold hands during Ummah Unity Gathering in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, September 14, 2019. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

KUALA LUMPUR: Allies in the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) have stepped up their preparations in expectation of a snap general election to resolve the power vacuum in Malaysia. 

United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) secretary-general Annuar Musa said in a press conference that the party had summoned its divisional leaders for a briefing on Thursday (Feb 27) and gave specific guidelines on how BN and PAS election machinery will work together at the national, state and area levels. 

UMNO, which formalised a pact with PAS in September last year under the banner of Islamic unity, is BN's main component party. The alliance also includes the Malaysian Chinese Association and the Malaysian Indian Congress. 

"I have issued additional instructions … that all BN election machinery across the country, will work together with PAS as a Muafakat Nasional to prepare for the election," said Mr Annuar. 

He added that the preparations were in line with the coalition’s call for parliament to be dissolved and snap polls to be announced amid political turmoil in the country. 

GE14 party flags
Party flags of parties contesting Malaysia's general election line a road in Tanjung Dawai, Kedah. (Photo: Amir Yusof)

READ: Barisan Nasional, PAS call for parliament to be dissolved and elections held

UMNO’s press conference on Thursday was held after interim prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said the Malaysian parliament will sit on Mar 2 to determine the next prime minister as no candidate commanded a clear majority. 

Dr Mahathir added that snap polls could be called if the House fails to arrive at a decision after the special parliamentary session. 

UMNO MEMBERS HURT BY MAHATHIR'S COMMENTS 

In his press conference on Thursday, Mr Annuar also noted that Dr Mahathir had singled out UMNO in his special address to the nation the day before. 

Dr Mahathir had said that he was not willing to accept UMNO joining a new coalition to govern Malaysia, which includes his party Bersatu, but was willing to take in UMNO members if they left the party. 

Addressing this, Mr Annuar said that UMNO party members were “hurt and insulted” by Dr Mahathir’s comments. But he called for them to be patient and continue to act morally in the face of “many accusations”. 

UMNO Annuar Musa
UMNO secretary-general Annuar Musa speaking at a press conference on Thursday (Feb 27). (Photo: Amir Yusof) 

"I would like to say that we will react moderately to the statements made by (Dr Mahathir). UMNO understands the situation he is in, the problem he faces on the national level," said Mr Annuar. 

"Even though his statement has hurt UMNO, we hope UMNO members will be patient and continue to act with dignity."

On Monday, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) ruling coalition collapsed when 26 MPs from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) and 11 MPs from Parti Keadilan Rakyat exited the alliance.

The Malaysian parliament has 222 seats. The Barisan Nasional coalition has 42 MPs while PAS has 18.

Meanwhile, PH currently has 92 federal lawmakers, comprising 42 from Democratic Action Party, 39 from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and 11 from Parti Amanah Negara.

Eleven MPs from PKR, who quit the party and PH on Monday, have pledged their support for Dr Mahathir. Bersatu has 26 seats.  

Source: CNA/am(rw)

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