Malaysia’s next election: Why Najib dithers

Mr Najib knows it is not enough to win the polls at the federal government level because if Mr Abdullah was forced to resign after performing badly in the states, then he is also at risk of becoming a victim of the precedent that he himself set.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan, The Straits Times

Malaysia has been in general election fever for almost a year, if not more. The power to dissolve Parliament, which will lead to a general election, lies with Prime Minister Najib Razak. He has been very busy touring the country to give speeches that can easily be taken as campaigning. But he does not seem ready to make the actual call.

Some say that Datuk Seri Najib is strategising and waiting for the right time. Others suggest that he is dithering because he is not sure if he can produce a sufficiently good electoral result to secure his own premiership for the foreseeable future. And some say that indecisiveness is his trademark.

Whichever it is, Mr Najib does have good reasons to dither. The best time to call an election was probably last year, when the opposition block was in tatters.

But Mr Najib missed the opportunity and now he has to carefully weigh the risks.

The opposition parties are slowly and gradually uniting under the newly formed Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition. And Umno is being rocked by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, former prime minister and former Umno president, and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who was deputy prime minister and Umno deputy president until he was sacked by Mr Najib last year.

Even though PH’s registration as a political party has not been approved yet, Dr Mahathir has been named as the coalition’s chairman. Interestingly, he is now working with Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister whom he sacked back in 1998. Anwar is PH’s overall leader, or ketua umum.

The new partnership between these two old foes creates a lot of uncertainties, adding to Mr Najib’s dithering.

For the upcoming general election – known as GE14 because it will be Malaysia’s 14th – Barisan Nasional (BN), the Umno-led ruling coalition, looks confident at the federal level. But the situation is less certain if we examine the situation state by state. Under Dr Mahathir’s aggressive drive, PH is making headway in quite a few states.

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