October 11, 2022
KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s opposition parties and netizens mostly slammed Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s decision on Monday to call for the general election as early as next month.
They called the move “irresponsible” and accused him of gambling with the lives of voters during the annual monsoon season.
Political analysts noted that the Premier was pushed into a corner by factions within his ruling Umno party, and that the flood season is likely to see a low voter turnout.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) strategy director Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir said the Datuk Seri Ismail made an “irresponsible” decision to appease Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is fighting dozens of corruption charges in court.
“This is solely a political decision which did not consider the welfare of the public. We should be doing flood preparations now,” he told The Straits Times.
The PKR is headed by Mr Anwar Ibrahim.
Pejuang Information chief Ulya Husamudin said that it seemed like the risk of flooding had meant little to Umno in its desire for power.
“They are willing to gamble with the lives of the people and the loss of property and belongings due to floods just to satisfy the political desires of Umno,” he said.
“The people must make the right decision. Don’t vote for a party that clearly has no integrity and is power hungry. It is time for the people to rise and send a clear message to them that this country belongs to the people and that they reject Umno at the general election.”
Pejuang is led by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Datuk Seri Hadi Awang, president of the Islamist Parti Islam SeMalaysia, which is part of the Ismail administration, expressed “disappointment that Parliament had to be dissolved in such a hurry”.
Risk consultancy BowerGroupAsia senior analyst Hafidzi Razali said that Mr Ismail is cornered as Umno is united in its call for early elections.
“The monsoon season is expected to cause lower voter turnout, hence this will be advantageous to BN (Barisan National).
“This is a huge risk against the interest of potential flood victims, given that schools and public halls, which are typically used as flood displacement centres, will also be used for election purposes.
“There is also a concern that the civil service could be stretched to concurrently deal with flooding and the election,” he told ST.
Many netizens were not happy with the announcement. The hashtag #KerajaanGagal (failed government) was trending on Twitter late on Monday.
Twitter user shiebnaa_ wrote: “To have an election so close to the time where it usually floods is selfish! The current government we have is obviously of no use and only cares about saving themselves from going to jail for their fraud. Get out and vote.”
Others like ShaBrh7 posted photos of his idea of a “GE15 starter pack”, comprising a life jacket, boat or raft.
Opposition Warisan’s Perak chairman Sunther Subramaniam, however, welcomed the decision.
“It is good to give back the mandate to the people because this is not an elected government.”
Said Datuk Sunther: “Although we have a short time to campaign, we are a party that has a leader with no scandal or corruption cases. We play a role as an alternative choice for the people.”
Former premier Muhyiddin Yassin said the election was an opportunity to vote for change.
“I think the rakyat (people) is ready for it, they want to exercise their right as voters to get a better government that will take care of them and is concerned about their livelihood.”