Malaysian Prime Minister calls early general elections

Malaysian Prime Minister calls early general elections


Malaysia’s prime minister on Monday dissolved parliament to clear the way for snap elections to restore political stability as the country emerges from the ravages of Covid-19 and a multi-billion dollar corruption scandal.

Elections could be held within weeks of Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s announcement.

Elections were not scheduled to take place until September next year, but Ismail has faced intense pressure from his party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), to dissolve parliament and secure a strong mandate in early elections.

She had a slim majority in the recently dissolved parliament.

“Yesterday I met the King… and I asked his permission to dissolve Parliament. And the King has approved my motion to dissolve Parliament today,” Ismail said in a televised address to the nation after his audience with Sultan Abdullah.

“I hope people will use their votes wisely to vote for stability, economic growth and harmony in the country,” he said, referring to the mainly Muslim but multi-ethnic Southeast Asian nation.

No date was given for the election, but the constitution requires elections to take place within 60 days of the dissolution of parliament.

The breakup came days after the government unveiled a populist budget that included billions of dollars in cash and a cut in personal income taxes.

– Political rumors –

Malaysia has been in political turmoil since the last national elections in 2018, when a reformist pact spearheaded by ex-leader Mahathir Mohamad overwhelmingly defeated an alliance led by the UMNO, the main party that ruled the country for more than 60 years .

Then incumbent Najib Razak, who was embroiled in a scandal that allegedly looted billions of dollars from the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund, was removed as prime minister.

He was later convicted of corruption after a lengthy trial and served a 12-year prison sentence on the first count in August. He faces more charges that could put him in jail longer.

However, hopes for stability after Najib’s fall quickly faded when Mahathir’s government collapsed after 22 months due to bitter power struggles.

He was succeeded by his former right-hand man Muhyiddin Yassin, but growing public anger at his handling of the pandemic forced him to resign less than two years after taking office, and Ismail was named Malaysia’s new leader.

Ismail’s rule was relatively peaceful after he signed a ceasefire with the country’s opposition to allow the government to focus on recovery after the worst of the pandemic.

Analysts said the election will hopefully give the next government a stronger mandate to shepherd the country for a five-year term.

“The importance of these polls is that this is the first general election since Covid-19, so it’s very much an election to choose a government that will bring Malaysia back to political stability,” said James Chin, professor of Asian studies at the University of Tasmania, told AFP.

“People are looking for political stability. People are just fed up with the three governments Malaysia has had since 2018. And people are realizing that for the government or the country to move forward, you need political stability.”

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