Malaysia's DPM Zahid hints at general election 'within days' after Chinese New Year

Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the next general election "will likely be held within days after the Chinese New Year".
Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the next general election "will likely be held within days after the Chinese New Year". PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

BAGAN DATUK, PERAK - Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on Sunday (Nov 26) dropped another clue on the likely polling day of the next general election, which must be called by August next year.

In its report of his comments, Bernama news agency said Datuk Seri Zahid has given a hint that the 14th General Election "will likely be held within days after the Chinese New Year", which falls on Feb 16 and 17 next year (2018).

This means that the possible window for nationwide polls now starts from Feb 18 at the earliest.

The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition's five-year term ends on June 24 next year. After parliament automatically disbands on that date, a general election must be called by the Election Commission within 60 days from that date.

Dr Zahid, who is also Home Minister and MP for Bagan Datuk, has been dropping hints on the likely election date in recent months.

He touched on the topic again when opening the Teoh Fu Kiong Temple in Hutan Melintang here on Sunday (Nov 26) morning.

"Don't forget our big day will come. After the Chinese New Year there will be another big day. If previously voters had made a mistake it is okay, I forgive them. But if possible, don't repeat the same mistake," he said to applause from the congregation which numbered more than 500 people.

Dr Zahid also spoke on the freedom of religion in Malaysia, saying it contributed to the peace and harmony the people were enjoying.

"The Malaysian government is a caring one and understands religious differences. Although our constitution states that Islam is the religion of the federation, non-Muslims are free to practise their respective religions.

"Its means the government is fair and respects all religions in the country because Islam teaches us to respect other religions," he said.

Earlier this month (Nov), he indicated that the general election would be held only next year.

"The elections will take place no later than 180 days from now," he said on Nov 12 in comments which suggest the general election would take place by mid-May.

The Star newspaper in an article published earlier this month said that the 14th general election is likely to be held between April and mid-May next year.

Jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is expected to be freed on June 9 next year.