July 6, 2023
KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia will hold elections in six states on Aug 12, the Election Commission (EC) said on Wednesday.
The nomination day for candidates is on July 29, allowing for a 14-day campaign period. Early voting for security personnel such as the army and police will take place on Aug 8.
A total of 245 assembly seats will be contested in Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu, Penang, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan. The state assemblies were officially dissolved from June 22 to July 1.
EC chairman Abdul Ghani Salleh said on Wednesday that more than 9.7 million people are eligible to cast their votes in the six state polls.
He added that application for overseas postal voting, which has been open since June 15, will be closed on Saturday. Application for domestic postal voting will end on July 26.
Tan Sri Abdul Ghani estimated that the six state elections will cost RM420 million (S$122 million).
Analysts believe the state polls will be a test of support for the unity government led by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, in which his Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition is working with former arch-rival Barisan Nasional (BN) for the first time.
After in-depth discussions, two of BN’s component parties – the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) – have decided not to contest the upcoming polls.
The MIC explained on Wednesday that its decision not to contest was made solely to protect the interests of the party.
Both the MIC and MCA have decided to focus on building a stronger party for the 16th general election after their poor performance in the 15th edition in November 2022. MCA won two of the 44 seats it contested, while the MIC won one out of 10 seats.
“MCA will implement reforms within the party and rise again. During this period, MCA will focus its efforts on preparing for the 16th general election,” said MCA secretary-general Chong Sin Woon in a statement on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Datuk Seri Anwar said he is confident that PH can retain Selangor, Penang and Negeri Sembilan while capturing two states held by Parti Islam SeMalaysia. He did not name the two states.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy president Rafizi Ramli also expressed optimism on Wednesday that PH will retain Selangor, Penang and Negeri Sembilan.
He noted that higher levels of voter satisfaction were seen in the three states. Of the six states involved in the elections, Negeri Sembilan has the highest approval rating of 75 per cent, he added.
However, the opposition alliance, Perikatan Nasional, claims that it is making significant inroads in the PH stronghold states of Selangor and Penang.
Bread-and-butter issues will take centre stage during the campaigning, as Malaysians are still grappling with persistent inflation, despite it slowing to 2.8 per cent in May, the lowest since May 2022.
Costs have gone up for businesses, given that the ringgit has weakened against a basket of currencies since the beginning of the year. On Wednesday, it closed at RM4.6538 against the US dollar.
On Monday, the police said action would be taken against political parties that touch on race, religion and royalty issues during the election campaign.
Stressing that police officers will be monitoring the campaigning, Inspector-General of Police Razarudin Husain reminded the parties to comply with rules and laws, especially those related to the Election Offences Act 1954 and the Sedition Act.