The next general election would not be held before September, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said yesterday.
“(September) is too soon; it (the general election) will be held beyond that,” Zahid said, according to Channel News Asia.
He said this during his speech at Umno’s Hari Raya open house event at PWTC, Kuala Lumpur.
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has until August next year to call for the parliamentary election, but he is widely speculated to do so earlier.
Further delays to the election would likely give more time for Najib’s main opponent – the fledgling Pakatan Harapan coalition – to bolster its ranks.
Many analysts told Malaysiakini that Najib is unlikely to call for GE14 in September because Malaysia would be hosting the 2017 Asean Para Games while Putrajaya would be hosting Chinese Prime Minister Xi Jinping in October.
However, delaying the election for too long could potentially pose other problems for Najib and the BN coalition that he leads, such as disgruntlement over Malaysia’s already slowing economy, weakening currency and cost-of-living issues.
Although an election is unlikely to be called within the third quarter, Najib himself appeared to be in election mode of late, harping on BN’s performance record against the less-tested Harapan.
“This is the government with a 60-year track record. Umno is 71 years old. We have led the country to where it is today and not just that, we have a vision for the future.
“(We have) a clear leadership structure, a clear hierarchy, a clear direction and clear capabilities,” Najib told reporters yesterday.
This was a reference to the fact that Harapan had named Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Anwar Ibrahim and Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as its chairperson, de facto leader and president respectively.
Several BN officials have accused Harapan of being a ship with “three captains” and no clear direction, although Harapan officials believe that this model was better because the coalition operated on consensus.
This, said Najib, was too risky for Malaysians.
“As ordinary people, why would you want to take that risk when there are Umno and BN, with solid track records.
“Although some are not very happy with what they see as shortcomings and weaknesses – by and large, the world has credited us for the country’s proud achievements,” Najib said.