Major political players preparing for 15th General Election

PETALING JAYA: The final months of 2021 are set to be politically-charged, with the country’s major political players battling it out on all fronts.

With the Melaka state election happening in November, Sarawak appears likely to follow suit by going to the polls in December.

The politics-centric atmosphere will remain the mainstay until next year, with parties like PAS and Umno scheduled to have their party elections and annual general assemblies.

Top personalities in the parties will be looking to secure support as they aim for the main positions.

Their strategies, for themselves and for their respective parties, lead towards the fight for the crown jewel of them all – Putrajaya – with speculation that the 15th General Election could be held in the second half of 2022.

Universiti Malaya’s Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said all the political manoeuvrings surrounding the Melaka election and beyond were “chess moves” ahead of GE15.

“All roads seem to be heading towards preparations for the 15th General Election, even though the Prime Minister might be trying to delay the general election until 2023,” added Awang.

He believes Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob would want to hold the general election much later, as at the moment, it is unclear what the outcome of the 15th General Election would be.

The 14th Parliament of Malaysia will automatically dissolve in July 2023, paving way for the next general election.

Awang also took note of Umno’s election candidate process, where candidates for the next general election will be decided together by Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and vice-president Ismail Sabri, who is the Prime Minister.

He regards the new election candidate process as a compromise between different factions in Umno, but said more challenges lie ahead for Ahmad Zahid, as he is not the prime minister despite being party president.

Meanwhile, PAS’ party polls are set to take place during its muktamar in November this year, which observers have described as a battle between the factions aligned with the Perikatan Nasional government and the other favouring the Muafakat Nasional pact with Umno.

“We can see the faction favouring the Perikatan government gaining momentum in branch level meetings so far,” said a PAS leader who declined to be named.

The muktamar will be a two-day event on Nov 6 and 7. It will be held both virtually and physically, and an e-voting system will be introduced.

A leaked audio tape that went viral last week purportedly of a senior PAS leader being concerned with the present leadership has also intensified talk of infighting within the Islamist party.

On the Opposition front, the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by Pakatan Harapan and the government on Sept 13 did not augur well with Parti Warisan Sabah and Parti Pejuang Tanah Air.

Pejuang chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he would not sign the MOU as the Opposition must be able to keep the government in check.

Warisan president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal also questioned the values that Pakatan would represent after it signed the MOU.

“I don’t want that at the end of the day if the government of the day fails and I signed the memorandum, I also fail.

“The people are watching how the leadership in this country is doing,” he said.

There are also rumblings of discontent among Pakatan grassroots who are against the top leadership’s decision to sign the MOU with Ismail Sabri’s government.

Many are not happy as they feel that Pakatan is on the losing end, while some feel that this might result in certain Barisan Nasional leaders facing court action getting away.

As for the Sarawak election, it would be in Gabungan Parti Sarawak’s (GPS) interest to secure a maximum win and have a strong mandate for the next term.

Political analyst Dr Jeniri Amir said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, who is the leader of GPS, would want to aim for a two-thirds majority win.

“A solid mandate is important for the Chief Minister, so that he is able to implement all the party’s policies effectively,” he said.

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