PAS and Umno weigh in on best time frame for GE15

Zakiah Koya, The Star

Perikatan Nasional says that the best time frame for the 15th general election would be between next March and July so as not to risk a government shutdown if Budget 2023 does not get passed by Dec 31 this year.

On the other hand, Barisan Nasional insists that doing so would mean delaying getting the mandate from the rakyat for a more stable government.

PAS general election director and Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said holding a general election just at the brink of the northeast monsoon is “heartless”, and does not reflect a “caring government”.

PAS is a component party of Perikatan along with Bersatu, Star Sabah, SAPP and Gerakan.

“PAS is not against dissolution of the Parliament and getting a mandate from the rakyat for a new government.

“We are against holding a general election when many Malaysians would be affected by the rainy season,” said Sanusi, who argued that it is best to postpone any plans for elections until after next March as the northeast monsoon occurs between November and March.

“When the northeast monsoon takes place is a Form One geography lesson which Barisan seems to have missed.

“Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob can then dissolve Parliament anytime between April and July.

“He can also wait until Parliament is dissolved automatically in July 2023.

“Allegations that PAS is asking for the snap polls to be delayed because we do not have enough manpower to deal with the floods and the general election is uncalled for.

“When the floods hit, usually Umno and Barisan people hand the job over to government agencies.

“They are very good at holding spades and hoes and posing for photographs,” said Sanusi.

According to constitutional law expert, Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, every government is given a term of five years from the date the Parliament first sits after the last general election.

“Under Article 55(3), the life of Parliament is five years from the date of its first meeting.

“If the Prime Minister wishes for an earlier dissolution, he can make such a request to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

“Conventionally, the King generally accepts this advice, but under Article 40(2)(b), the King has an undoubted personal discretion to say no.

“The reasons for the royal refusal cannot be challenged in a court of law,” said Shad Saleem.

Meanwhile, Syahir Sulaiman, the political secretary to PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, said that a dissolution immediately after the budget announcement is not practical.

“If Budget 2023 is not passed by Dec 31, the administrative term for such a situation is ‘government shutdown’, and this happened in the United States in 1996, 2013 and 2019, where even the civil servants’ salary was not paid.

“We can avoid this situation in Malaysia by passing a temporary supply Bill as allowed under the Federal Constitution,” said Syahir.

He further said that when then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad dissolved Parliament in 1999 before passing Budget 2000, a new Budget had to be presented again when the new government was formed after the 10th general election.

Umno supreme council member and Youth chief Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said the best time frame for the general election is after Budget 2023, but before the end of November.

“It is time we returned the mandate to the people as Barisan believes that an unelected government is not right,” said Asyraf when contacted.

“We have had two unelected governments after the last general election, under Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

“Umno has been pushing for snap polls when the Sheraton Move happened as we want the mandate to be returned to the people. However, we listened to the advice of the King who requested that we wait until the pandemic was over.

“Now that everything has reopened, it is right that this government hands back the mandate to the people to pick a more stable government,” he added.

In the 2018 general election, Pakatan Harapan ousted Barisan Nasional, which had ruled for 60 years.

However, in 2020, a breakaway group from Pakatan Harapan saw Barisan, PAS and GPS joining hands to form a new government under Muhyiddin.

In 2021, Muhyiddin was forced to step down and gave way to Ismail Sabri to be the ninth prime minister.