Malaysia says budget announcement on schedule, amid election speculation

An election is not due until September 2023. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia will present its 2023 budget on Friday as previously scheduled, a finance ministry spokesperson said on Tuesday, amid speculation that Parliament could be dissolved before the budget to make way for an early general election.

An election is not due until September 2023, but Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob is under pressure from some factions of his ruling coalition to hold the vote earlier for a stronger mandate and due to infighting.

Local media reported speculation that Parliament could be dissolved even before the budget was tabled by the finance minister on Friday.

The ministry, in a response to a media question, confirmed the budget would go ahead as scheduled.

An election must be held within 60 days from the dissolution of Parliament.

State news agency Bernama reported Mr Ismail as saying that while he has the power to advise Malaysia's King Al-Sultan Abdullah to dissolve Parliament, it is the monarch who has the absolute power to make it happen.

"Some say it should be dissolved before the tabling of Budget 2023, some say it should be on Monday after the tabling, some say next month, some say next year, so many speculations. Let's just wait," it quoted Mr Ismail as saying.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy and the king typically acts on the prime minister's advice. But the king does have certain discretionary powers, including withholding consent for dissolution of the parliament.

The premier is scheduled to have a meeting with the king on Thursday for his weekly audience, local media reported.

Last Friday, Ismail's United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party, which forms the biggest component of the ruling coalition, agreed to hold a general election this year.

Mr Ismail's coalition, however, is not unanimous over the election timing.

Many lawmakers from his own UMNO party and other alliance partners have cited economic woes such as the rising cost of living, as well as the year-end monsoon season and the ensuing floods as reasons for not holding polls this year. REUTERS

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