KUALA LUMPUR: A snap general election amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia will cost RM1.2 billion (US$286 million), said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Takiyuddin Hassan.
In his reply during the committee stage debate of a supplementary bill, Mr Takiyuddin explained that in contrast to the previously reported estimate of RM700 million, the increased amount was due to the COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs).
By comparison, the last general election in 2018 cost RM500 million, he added.
“I was made to understand that if the government has snap polls nationwide at this time post-COVID-19, it is estimated to cost RM1.2 billion, not RM700 million as estimated.
“So if all SOPs are followed then this is the estimate,” he said.
Separately, Mr Takiyuddin also said that the last five by-elections in the constituencies of Cameron Highlands, Semenyih, Rantau, Sandakan and Tanjung Piai cost a total of RM12.9 million.
In February former Election Commission chairman Azhar Azizan Harun, who is now the Parliament speaker, had said that snap polls would cost between RM750 million and RM800 million as a result of enhancements such as increase in polling centres and additional voting streams for people with special needs.
There have been growing calls from both sides of the political divide for Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to hold snap polls, as questions linger over whether he commands an effective majority in parliament.
Mr Muhyiddin, who currently heads the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, was sworn in as Malaysia’s eighth prime minister on Mar 1 following the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government.
Based on a vote to remove the previous parliament speaker during the Jul 13 sitting, PN is believed to have 113 out of the 222 federal lawmakers, a majority of two seats.