It is unlikely that the 15th General Election (GE15) will be held this year, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) chairman said he does not expect the polls to be called before Budget 2023.
The government’s annual spending Bill, which was initially scheduled to be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on Oct 28 have been brought forward to Oct 7, fuelling speculation that polls will be called this year.
The former premier said that GE15 cannot be held early as the government is also unprepared.
“The government is trying to find a slot when it will be well accepted by the people.
“At the moment, it has been rejected by the people. This we can see from what has been happening these last few days,” he said at a press conference after launching Parti Berjasa Malaysia’s Impian Nasional 2040.
“Personally, I don’t think it (GE15) is this year but we don’t know because Zahid (Umno chief Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi) wants to prepare for the polls this year,” added Dr Mahathir.
Dr Mahathir said this is because Ahmad Zahid is facing charges in court, however adding that he thinks Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob) is not so keen,” he said.
The Parti Pejuang Tanah Air chairman said Ismail Sabri may want to stay as prime minister for as long as he can, adding that the government will only call for polls when it believes it can win.
Meanwhile, Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said the government is rushing Budget 2023, based on a lack of consultation with Pakatan Harapan which he said was the norm over the last few years.
This, he said in a video posted to Facebook, is a sign Ismail Sabri faces immense pressure from his party Umno and an indication the 15th general election (GE15) is near.
“Generally, in the past two or so years, there would be consultations with Harapan during the process of preparing the budget, based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU signed between Harapan and Ismail Sabri).
“Namely on taxes, expenditure, transparency, and accountability.
“This has not happened, which means they rushed into this decision. It is assumed this was done to allow the prime minister to determine election dates,” Anwar said in the video.
He said this proves the country needs a stable government with a clear mandate to focus on good governance and eliminating corruption.
The rushed budget risks overlooking certain issues, he said, which include the rising cost of living, education reforms, improving health facilities, digitalisation, and climate change, seeing as the nation faces floods several times a year now.
“Unfortunately, a weak administration like the one that exists now, is due to figures who are afraid of facing prosecution in court. (They are) unlikely to help solve the problems of the people, especially the rising cost of living.
“We hope the people will stand up together and demand comprehensive change and reform,” he said.
Yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar confirmed Budget 2023 will be presented in the Dewan Rakyat on Oct 7.
However, he denied any link between the budget’s change of date with the next general election.
GE15 is speculated to be held this year as Umno has been mounting pressure on Ismail Sabri for a snap poll.
The next parliamentary sitting was initially slated to be held between Oct 28 and Dec 15 where Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz would table Budget 2023 on Oct 28.
In a statement issued later, Wan Junaidi said the cabinet proposed the dates be shifted 23 days earlier than before, which would have been from Oct 3 until Nov 29 (32 days).
Last week, Wan Junaidi indicated the next general election is likely to be called only after the tabling of the federal budget in Parliament.
“Once the budget is passed and the people felt its benefits, then it would be the right time to dissolve Parliament,” he had said.