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4:56pm 24/08/2022
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As pressure builds up, PM takes election call in stride
By:Sin Chew Daily

At 11.15 pm Sunday night, Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan issued a notice under the instruction of party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to get about 70 out of 191 divisional chairmen nationwide to attend a special meeting the following afternoon.

It was said that the special meeting was about the “party’s future.”

What could have been so major that an urgent notice needed to be issued for a meeting the following day? There were two speculated reasons for such an urgent gathering.

Firstly, to force PM Ismail Sabri to exert pressure on the judiciary over Najib’s SRC case, but given the opposition from many party divisions, this was, luckily, not successful. If the PM really put a hand into the judiciary, he would most positively come under heavy public censure which would invariably cost him his political career.

Secondly, if the above was unsuccessful, the president would then force an immediate dissolution of parliament to make way for the 15th general election, which is the version of Youth chairman Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki who was at the “special meeting” said to be “mostly talking about the election.”

Indeed, there must have been something really major to warrant a last-minute meeting which would only be summoned if the party president was racing against time to stay in power.

It was said that overwhelming majority of attendees at the meeting had supported an immediate election.

But to Barisan Nasional, the best timing for an election is being eroded by issues such as Najib’s court case, the LCS scandal and the Umno president’s 47 counts of corruption and abuse of power cases.

The party’s “court cluster” is very clear that time is no longer on their side now and they must rush through an election to firm up BN’s hold of power so that these few people will stay safe.

The “court cluster” is extremely anxious now, although PM Ismail who has no court cases to worry about seems unperturbed.

The PM is actually telling the “court cluster” he will very much wish to stay in office until the parliament expires.

Well, we can’t say that the PM wishes to have Najib and Ahmad Zahid quickly convicted and sent to jail, but he’s got to go his own way and not to be led by the nose by others to announce the dissolution of the parliament, which is his sole prerogative. This is the only way for him to possibly become the uncontested leader of BN and any future ruling coalition.

Pursuant to BN’s landslide victories in Melaka and Johor elections, rumors are rife that the general election will be held before the end of this year. But even with the “court cluster” pressuring him, Ismail Sabri looks happy to just drag on for as long as he can.

He said in BN’s 48th anniversary meeting in June that he would dissolve the parliament as soon as BN is ready for the election and would not hold on for another second. But as time goes by, he nevertheless insisted on his first anniversary in office that he would only do so if he is certain that BN can secure a two-thirds majority.

Two-thirds majority for BN? Fat hope, indeed, but the PM is actually telling the “court cluster” that he will very much wish to stay in office until the parliament expires. General election? We’ll talk about that next spring. Anyway, just another few more months!

To be honest, what the rakyat want is stability. While the PM’s performance during his first year in office is nothing to shout about, at least his team has done a rather good job in containing the virus, inflation, passing the anti-hopping bill and preparing to table the political funding bill before the year ends. These are all important indicators for Ismail’s KPI.

As for the SRC case, LCS scandal, Ahmad Zahid’s court cases…all these have nothing to do with him!

Now that he has some good cards on his side, he should slow down and play them well. He should focus more on serving the people and winning their trust in order to stay immune to his party’s blackmailing.

That’s why he recently said Umno’s Top 5 have no right to decide when the parliament should be dissolved. They can voice their opinions, but the decision is the cabinet’s to make. Which means, you guys (Najib, Ahmad Zahid et al) must never think you have all the power!

As a matter of fact, BN currently holds only 79 out of 222 seats in Dewan Rakyat, or 35.6%. So, it’s not the “court cluster” that has the final say on the election date.

But with 70 Umno divisional chiefs summoned to a last-minute meeting in KL to talk about the election, this shows that the PM aside, the party’s other leaders simply cannot wait any longer.

We’ll see whether the PM can resist the mounting pressure and dissolve the parliament only when he feels comfortable to.

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