KUALA LUMPUR: The 15th General Election (GE15) will likely be held this year, says Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Ahmad Zahid, who is also Umno president, said the Prime Minister might have a different reading, but Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who is an Umno vice-president, would definitely consult with Umno’s top five leaders.
“I am confident that he is a party man, and he knows the best timing,” he added.
Umno’s top five leaders are Ahmad Zahid, deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and vice-presidents Ismail Sabri, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin and Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.
Ismail Sabri has said he would dissolve Parliament once a study could provide some reassurance that the coalition has a chance to emerge victorious in GE15.
Ahmad Zahid said Barisan should not delay holding the general election as more issues could crop up in the future.
“We know that they (the Opposition) want to turn the Littoral Combat Ship project into an issue like they did with 1Malaysia Development Bhd during the 14th General Election. But they are making a mistake because we countered it immediately,” he said.
Citing another example, he said he had faced a similar issue when the Opposition said a navy submarine could not be submerged underwater while he was holding the defence minister’s post.
“I invited (Bagan MP) Lim Guan Eng to go on board the submarine to rebut the allegations.
“When I asked him whether it could submerge, he replied ‘yes, yes’,” Ahmad Zahid said, adding that the Opposition would always try to create a negative perception against Barisan.
He said that Barisan, which consists of Umno, MCA, MIC and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah, was set to go solo for GE15.
He said the move was important, but this and several other decisions would be firmed up during the Barisan supreme council meeting scheduled here for tonight.
“I will hold discussions with all component party presidents, and all the matters that I have mentioned will be materialised in the form of a decision by the Barisan supreme council,” he said in his closing speech at the Wanita Barisan Nasional Convention 2022 here yesterday.
The Barisan supreme council meeting is expected to take place at the World Trade Centre tonight.
Also present at the Wanita convention were MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, MIC president Tan Sri SA Vigneswaran and other top coalition leaders.
Ahmad Zahid also said six parties had expressed an interest in joining the coalition.
“If we are not in a strong position, I am sure nobody would want to join Barisan. But now six parties want to join us, including Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM),” he added.
Previously, PBM president Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said her party had sent an application to join Barisan, and she was prepared to accept any decision.
On seat distribution, Ahmad Zahid said the traditional seat of Barisan component parties would be given to the incumbent party if it could win it.
He added that if a component party could not win its traditional seat, the coalition would identify and swap it with another.
The Umno president also dismissed talk that the party did not support the Prime Minister.
He said the resolution to support the Prime Minister had been explicitly expressed during the Umno general assembly and the party supreme council.
He also said Barisan would include in its GE15 manifesto its intention to resolve the citizenship issue involving children born overseas to a Malaysian mother.
Ahmad Zahid added that it was important for Barisan to offer new deals to voters and field fresh faces in GE15.
Later, at a press conference, he expressed his confidence that GE15 would be held this year as many indicators were pointing towards it.
He said next year would not be suitable due to factors such as rising inflation.
The Barisan chairman said the coalition had started preparations at all levels.