KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Saturday evening that the country is "very close" to holding the next general election.
"We are very close to the election. I will set the date with the (Umno) president. Trust me, just wait a little while longer. I hear your calls clearly," he said at the launching of an election readiness campaign for the Youth wing of the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
Datuk Seri Ismail said the "top five" leaders of Umno, Malaysia's largest political party, will meet soon to set the date for the national polls, the country's 15th general election.
The top five Umno leaders are its president Zahid Hamidi, deputy president Mohamad Hasan and the three vice-presidents - Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Mahdzir Khalid and the prime minister himself.
PM Ismail said on Saturday: "What's important is that when Parliament is dissolved and GE15 is held - we must win."
As Mr Ismail stood on stage at the event, multiple shouts of "Bubar!, Bubar!, Bubar!" (Dissolve!) were heard from the thousands of BN Youth members.
The current Malaysian Parliament which first sat in mid-July 2018, will automatically dissolve in July next year, and polls must be held within 60 days following that in mid- September 2023.
The premier has been under pressure to quickly call for the elections from Umno, including from Zahid who are keen for the polls to be held this year, with the opposition parties seen as being unable to unite under one banner, unlike prior to the 2018 polls.
Calls for Mr Ismail to dissolve Parliament grew louder after the jailing of popular Umno leader and ex-prime minister Najib Razak, which a section of the party felt was unjustly treated by the courts.
Najib is serving a 12-year sentence after the apex Federal Court on Aug 23 upheld his conviction by two lower courts, in a graft case linked to a former company under state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd.
There is widespread speculation that PM Ismail would call for the dissolution of Parliament soon after the presentation of next year's Budget on Oct 7.
In Malaysia the prime minister has the prerogative to decide on when to dissolve the Lower House, by advising the Malaysian King on a date agreed by the premier's coalition.
The Election Commission would then take around 10 days before announcing the date for nomination of election candidates, the length of the campaign period, and the date for casting ballots. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK