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Umno deputy chief says now is ‘best time’ to hold general election

THE STRAITS TIMES – The best time to hold the Malaysia’s 15th General Election (GE15) is now, said Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan yesterday.

Mohamad, popularly known as Tok Mat, is Umno’s most senior leader after party president Zahid Hamidi, who is facing graft charges.

The Umno deputy chief said that he had presented the party’s position in a report during the last Umno general assembly.

“As far as the party is concerned, to us now is the best time. The window is now, that is the party’s position,” he said during a press conference after launching a forum at the party headquarters in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

He was asked when is the most suitable time to hold GE15. However, Mohamad said such a decision would be totally up to the Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, as only he can advise the King on the dissolution of Parliament.

“I suppose the Prime Minister has his own views and other considerations. Perhaps he is waiting for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the opposition to expire on July 31 to honour his word,” said Mohamad.

“We will wait until July 31 and then discuss this,” he added.

Mohamad said that the party would discuss the issue with the Prime Minister and not pressure him. “Although he is the party vice-president, he is also the Prime Minister. Those are two different positions. He must have his own considerations. We think this is the best time because the Opposition is in disarray,” he said.

Under Malaysia’s long-held political tradition, the Umno president is appointed prime minister should the Malay party comes to power, but Zahid is facing a battery of graft charges in court and wasn’t picked by the Malaysian King when Umno and other parties cobbled together a coalition to rule the country in August last year. Mohamad, though second in line in Umno, could not be nominated as prime minister as he isn’t a Member of Parliament.

The government and leaders of opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan had signed the MoU, or confidence and supply agreement, on bipartisan cooperation and political stability on September 13 last year.

Under the deal, the government agreed not to dissolve Parliament before July 31, to allow for a period of political stability.