Analysts say election delay could backfire on Ismail
(FMT) – A tactic to delay calling for the next general election could backfire on Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, according to several political analysts.
The tactic was viewed as being a double-edged sword, even though it would weaken the hold of Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and the influence of former prime minister Najib Razak.
Universiti Malaya lecturer Awang Azman Awang Pawi said the party and Barisan Nasional could lose its popularity and influence as Najib remained a factor, especially on social media.
Iskandar Hasan Tan Abdullah of Universiti Teknologi Mara in Kelantan said BN could lose support among young voters, who were not in favour of the “old political ways”.
Awang Azman said Zahid was Ismail’s sole rival for the prime minister’s post, following Najib’s jailing for corruption last week, he said.
But the party could lose its popular hold while Najib remained a presence especially on social media, he told FMT.
Ismail had said last week that the general election could be delayed to prevent the opposition cashing in on a controversy over the navy’s littoral combat ship project, as Pakatan Harapan did with the 1MDB scandal in 2018.
Public discontent over the 1MDB scandal was a factor in Barisan Nasional losing power at the 2018 elections.
Ismail had said that he would call for an election only when the country was ready. The elections must be held by September next year at the latest.
Awang Azman said the LCS project was not the only reason to postpone the election, adding that issues within Umno itself had also become a factor.
Iskandar said delaying the elections was a strategy among certain groups in Perikatan Nasional and Barisan Nasional who were interested in remaining in power in the federal government.
Azmi Hassan, a senior fellow of Akademi Nusantara, said a later general election could leave BN facing more controversies on which the opposition could capitalise – or give BN and the government more time to defend itself.