Back to the ballot boxes for six state elections

More than nine million voters will be involved in Selangor, Penang, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah, which did not hold their state polls during GE15 last month.


December 12, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR – Six states need to hold their polls by September next year, but it is a guessing game as to when their elections will actually be called.

Will they be held simultaneously, as the Election Commission (EC) has urged, or will Malaysians be subjected to a long, drawn-out affair with the elections spread out?

Political observers said if the six states were not on the same page as to the timing of the state polls, it could get very complicated.

More than nine million voters will be involved in Selangor, Penang, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah, which did not hold their state polls simultaneously with the 15th General Election (GE15) last month.

All six must hold their polls between June and September next year.

While the Pakatan Harapan-ruled states of Selangor, Penang and Negri Sembilan are in favour of all six holding simultaneous polls, the Perikatan Nasional-held states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah, buoyed by the “green wave” in GE15, are said to want to hold their polls much earlier.

Calls are growing louder by several PAS and Perikatan leaders, including Arau MP Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, for Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah to hold their state elections soon, some even calling for it immediately to bank on the momentum of the “green wave”.

Political observers, however, warned that if the state polls are not held together, Malaysians would be subjected to severe election fatigue in 2023, not to mention the wastage of hundreds of millions of ringgit.

Already, the cost of holding the polls in the six states has been estimated at RM450mil.

Election analyst Dr G. Manimaran said several major factors needed to be considered by Pakatan and Perikatan regarding the best window to hold the state elections.

He suggested that the state polls be held in March after the Chinese New Year celebration and after the various assistance and initiatives of the re-tabled Budget 2023 of the unity government were approved.

“This will give a feel-good factor to the rakyat, especially during a challenging year expected ahead,” he said, adding that another window was after Hari Raya Aidilfitri, between April and June.

However, he said he could not be sure if voters residing in other states would return to their hometowns to vote.

“If Barisan and Pakatan decide to work under the same formula of the unity government, they will also need to manage seat allocations carefully,” he added.

Another factor that could have an impact is the Umno general assembly scheduled for January and the Umno polls to follow subsequently, he said.

Dr Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said in all likelihood, PAS would win big in Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah.

As for Penang, Negri and Selangor, he said there were two main viewpoints as to the optimal time to hold state elections.

On one hand, Oh said some believed that more time should be given to the new unity government to prove its mettle so as to convince more of the electorate.

“The other view is the longer the state elections are delayed, the bigger the ‘green wave’ will be,” he said, adding that it could snowball into a huge tsunami.

Perikatan’s recent win in the Padang Serai parliamentary seat in Kedah means that it now has a total of 74 seats in Parliament, with Pakatan holding 81.

PAS had a big parliamentary success in GE15 by taking 49 seats, with a close to three-fold increase from its performance in GE14 in 2018, when it won just 18 seats.

The Kelantan government recently announced that it would decide on the date to dissolve the state assembly after the monsoon season in February.

Kelantan’s five-year term is scheduled to expire on June 9, 2023, while Kedah has until Sept 4 and Terengganu until Sept 1.

Selangor’s term will expire automatically on Aug 26, while Penang has until Aug 2 and Negri until Sept 2 to hold their state polls.

PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang has said that the party would leave it to the respective mentri besar to decide on the dissolution of the state assemblies in Kelantan, Kedah and Terengganu.

The Selangor government has said that it was ready to dissolve the state legislative assembly together with the five other states by Hari Raya next year.

Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari said discussions would be held with the heads of the other five state governments on having simultaneous polls.

Prior to GE15 on Nov 19, the Pakatan presidential council decided not to dissolve the state assemblies of Penang, Selangor and Negri, while PAS also did not dissolve the state assemblies of Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah.

Only Perlis, Perak and Pahang held their state polls with GE15.

Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Salleh has said that all six states should hold their elections simultaneously.

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