Pakatan Harapan sticks to holding state polls after Malaysia's general election

Pakatan Harapan had previously asserted that state polls would not be held before dealing with the annual monsoon floods. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's main opposition pact Pakatan Harapan (PH) is sticking to its decision not to call for state polls in the three states it controls until next year.

This is despite the Democratic Action Party's (DAP) Penang arm and party chairman Lim Guan Eng asking the coalition leadership to allow the northern state to hold a concurrent vote with federal elections expected next month.

Penang DAP had expressed concern about getting outstation supporters - who would have to travel back to vote in the federal elections - to return to vote a second time in separate state elections.

The coalition had previously asserted that Selangor, Penang and Negeri Sembilan would not go to the ballot before dealing with the annual year-end monsoon floods, which last year killed 54 and caused Malaysia RM6 billion (S$1.82 billion) in economic losses.

"DAP took time to explain their position, but in the end… the three states will postpone the state elections to focus on measures to face the floods," PH chief Anwar Ibrahim told reporters after the pact's presidential council meeting.

DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke said that if Penang broke ranks and dissolved its state assembly ahead of the other two PH-held states, this could "be used as a weapon by our enemies to show that PH is disunited and cannot make collective decisions".

"PH unity moving into GE15 (Malaysia's 15th general election) is paramount. So this is a judgement call on my part," he said.

Another three states, controlled by Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) - Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu - will also wait until after the year-end deluge subsides to hold state polls.

PAS is a member of former premier Muhyiddin Yassin's Perikatan Nasional (PN), which was part of Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob's administration before Parliament was dissolved.

Given that Sabah, Sarawak, Melaka and Johor have already elected their state assemblymen in the past two years, this leaves just the Umno-held states of Perak, Perlis and Pahang to hold their state polls together with the federal elections.

However, Perak's state ruler has yet to consent to a request for dissolution made by chief minister Saarani Mohamad on Tuesday.

A general election must be held within 60 days from Monday, when Prime Minister Ismail dissolved Parliament.

Datuk Seri Ismail had recommended that chief ministers allow concurrent state polls to be held to ensure the public is not burdened, smooth the democratic process and save costs. However, the decision lies with each state's administration.

The Election Commission has said the general election will cost more than RM1 billion.

Both PH and PN have repeatedly accused Umno, especially those aligned to party chief Zahid Hamidi, of disregarding the fate of the public by prioritising elections ahead of preparations for floods.

Critics have also accused Zahid of wanting polls to be held before the verdict in his graft trial is handed down early next year, as a conviction would bar him from contesting for public office.

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