October 14, 2022
KUALA LUMPUR – The stakes may be raised at Malaysia’s upcoming general election should opposition-led states hold state assembly polls at the same time.
The biggest opposition bloc Pakatan Harapan (PH) had previously stated that it would not hold state polls concurrently with the general election in the three states that it holds.
But it is reconsidering following a request from the Democratic Action Party (DAP), which leads Penang and is part of the PH coalition.
PH chairman Anwar Ibrahim said leaders of member political parties and the states will discuss a potential dissolution at the party and state levels before coming to an “understanding” in the near future.
DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke later told reporters that any decision will be simultaneously applied to all three states. This precludes a scenario wherein Penang dissolves its assembly while the other two PH states – Selangor and Negeri Sembilan – hold out.
“The PH decision must be based on a consensus for all three states – that is the principle that we are trying to achieve,” Mr Loke said after a PH presidential council meeting chaired by Datuk Seri Anwar on Wednesday.
Penang DAP had requested a review of PH’s stance on not dissolving state assemblies this year, citing potential voter fatigue among Penang voters who would be reluctant to vote twice in less than a year.
Like the general election, state polls must be held every five years. In the past, both the federal and state assembly polls were held concurrently, except in Sarawak.
All 12 other states must hold their elections by the second half of next year.
Three of those states have held their state elections in the past two years, and another three – led by Umno – have said they would hold theirs together with the federal elections.
The remaining six holdouts are those led by PH and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).
PAS is also expected to decide on the potential dissolution of state assemblies on Thursday. Kelantan chief minister Mohd Amar Abdullah on Wednesday said that while the state’s stance has not changed, he did not rule out a change in the decision as the party’s top leadership meets.
“I’m not sure if there will be changes in the next couple of days,” Datuk Mohd Amar reportedly told reporters in Kota Bharu.
When announcing the dissolution of Parliament on Monday, caretaker premier Ismail Sabri Yaakob called for simultaneous polls in order to save election costs.
However, Perak, one of the three states led by Umno, did not get immediate consent from the state ruler to dissolve its state assembly.
The state’s chief minister Saarani Mohamad said Perak ruler Sultan Nazrin Azlan Shah did not immediately grant his request for a dissolution when they met on Wednesday, but a decision will come from the palace in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Mr Anwar on Wednesday also confirmed that his coalition will enter into an electoral pact with Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda), a youth-based party that is helmed by former Cabinet minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman.
Muda had applied to join PH, but its formal membership requires the approval of the Registrar of Societies. Instead, the parties will enter into an electoral pact to avoid seat clashes.