Umno deputy chief says now is 'best time' to hold Malaysia's general election

Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said that the party would discuss the issue with the Prime Minister and not pressure him. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The best time to hold the Malaysia's 15th General Election is now, said Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan on Wednesday (May 11).

Mr Mohamad, popularly known as Tok Mat, is Umno's most senior leader after party president Zahid Hamidi, who is facing graft charges.

The Umno deputy chief said that he had presented the party's position in a report during the last Umno general assembly.

"As far as the party is concerned, to us now is the best time. The window is now, that is the party's position," he said during a press conference after launching a forum at the party headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

He was asked when is the most suitable time to hold GE15.

However, Mr Mohamad said such a decision would be totally up to the Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, as only he can advise the King on the dissolution of Parliament.

"I suppose the Prime Minister has his own views and other considerations. Perhaps he is waiting for the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Opposition to expire on July 31 to honour his word," said Mr Mohamad.

"We will wait until July 31st and then discuss this," he added.

Mr Mohamad said that the party would discuss the issue with the Prime Minister and not pressure him.

"Although he is the party vice-president, he is also the Prime Minister. Those are two different positions. He must have his own considerations. We think this is the best time because the Opposition is in disarray," he said.

Under Malaysia’s long-held political tradition, the Umno president is appointed prime minister should the Malay party comes to power, but Zahid is facing a battery of graft charges in court and wasn’t picked by the Malaysian King when Umno and other parties cobbled together a coalition to rule the country in August last year.

Mr Mohamad, though second in line in Umno, could not be nominated as prime minister as he isn’t a Member of Parliament.

The government and leaders of opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan had signed the MOU, or confidence and supply agreement, on bipartisan cooperation and political stability on Sept 13 last year.

Under the deal, the government, among others, agreed not to dissolve Parliament before July 31, to allow for a period of political stability.

Numerous calls have been made to hold the next general election - not due until September next year - this year, as Umno is seen as having the momentum after successive victories in state polls in Melaka and Johor.

Umno will hold an extraordinary general meeting to amend its Constitution on Sunday to approve an amendment to hold party elections within six months after the GE. The internal party polls were previously held every three years.

Mr Mohamad said the aim of amending the party Constitution with regards to party polls is to avoid disunity.

He said if the party polls, previously held every three years, were called before the general election, it could create splits within party ranks.

"I do not want to see the party splitting. There will be some sort of split (if it is held). It will be suicidal," he said at the same press conference.

Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan had said the motion to allow the amendments was approved at the Umno general assembly in March last year.

Mr Mohamad said that once the GE is concluded, Umno members will be free to participate in the party polls.

"Then whoever has the intention to contest for any position, they can go ahead," he said.

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