Don't bow to pressure over when to hold election, Anwar warns Malaysia's PM

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said discussions on the government's spending plan had already begun. PHOTO: ANWAR IBRAHIM/FACEBOOK

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Sunday cautioned Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob not to cave in to any "threats" by those embroiled in court cases when setting the date for the country's next general election.

"There is a possibility (of early polls), but I have said that a prime minister cannot set the date of the election based on the threats of a small group and their interest in closing their court cases," Datuk Seri Anwar, chairman of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, told reporters in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.

While he did not mention names, the veteran politician was alluding to Members of Parliament and political leaders who were facing corruption cases in court.

He said PH anticipated that the general election would take place in October or early November, and that the election machinery was being prepared.

Mr Anwar was speaking after a town hall session with youth, responding to questions on whether his coalition party would be ready to face the polls if the election is called after Malaysia's 2023 budget is tabled on Oct 7.

Speculation is rife that Parliament will be dissolved after the tabling of the budget, which has been brought forward by three weeks, to pave the way for elections.

Mr Anwar said discussions on the government's spending plan had already begun.

"We are firm with our stance that the Budget has to be responsible and take into account the people's problems, especially the poor, and structural changes must happen," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Anwar said negotiations on seat allocation with the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance's (Muda) bid to join PH were ongoing and that an announcement would be made in the near future.

For PH, he said, seats won on a party's platform in 2018 would remain within the same party.

The Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president added that opinions would be considered on PKR Youth's resistance to working with Muda.

"We consider everyone's opinion, but as I said, even though there are reasons, we have to discuss the implications thoroughly," Mr Anwar said.

"Whoever is with Pakatan has certain main principles to uphold. There are clear parameters that have to be accepted, but we have to give room for discussion."

On whether PH was ready to hear Muda out, Mr Anwar said discussions would continue.

"I have given the opportunity, and to my understanding, we have met most of the leaders, and I have also informed them that they can continue discussions with designated party leaders, and I think that is ongoing."

"I don't think there is a problem with initiating the discussions," he added. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.