Only Umno, BN supporters want early election, poll reveals

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Only supporters from Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) are eager to have an early election, a survey by pollster Ilham Centre has found, as the Malay party pushes Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob for snap polls.

Its executive director, Hisommudin Bakar, said the majority of respondents instead wanted the government led by the Umno vice-president to complete its term in July 2023.

“The majority of voters do want this government to last until the end of the current parliament term, not because they support the government but they do not feel the need for a general election to be called as soon as possible.

“It means that if necessary, the government can survive until the end of the term,” Hisommudin told The Malaysian Insight.

He said the survey was carried out in August across the country, involving 1,500 respondents, following repeated calls from Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for snap polls.

Kamal Ariffin/TMI

However, if the government wants to hold the general election in the near future, one of the suitable periods is before Ramadan next year, which is around March, says Ilham Centre.

“As far as we can tell from the data collected, the majority of voters want the government to last until the end of its term, but if the Putrajaya wants to dissolve parliament earlier, it will be before Ramadan next year.

“Fasting and Hari Raya are considered a truce. People don’t care about politics (during that period), they all worship and celebrate Raya, so that’s an alternative other than (waiting until) the end of the term next July,” he said.

Hisommudin added that ethnicity-wise, survey results also showed that the majority of Chinese and Indian respondents wanted Ismail to complete his term as prime minister.

“Our findings showed that only Umno supporters want an early election. It’s only Umno and BN supporters, specifically, who want it. People who support the opposition don’t want it.

“In terms of race, the Chinese voters don’t want snap polls to be called, the Indians don’t want it either.

“The majority, based on the Ilham Centre study, want the government to complete its full term because they don’t feel there is a problem (with government administration), the problem is only the political parties,” said Hisommudin.

He said the study also found that a group of voters did not agree with calling national polls at the end of the year during the monsoon season, between November and December.

“Our research shows that there are those who do not agree that GE15 should be held at the end of the year because traditionally, that’s when we face the monsoon season,” said Hisommudin, referring to the next general election.

He did not rule out that calling early polls could be an advantage for BN as one will expect turnout at voting centres to be low during the monsoon season.

Hisommudin also cautioned that if the government could invoke the ire of the people if it made the wrong move.

“The advantage for BN with the rainy season, low turnout is expected and it would give them the upper hand.

“But the reality is that the general election projections are different. People will get angry and as a sign of protest, they can vote against them. That can happen.”

“That’s the risk for BN. A big risk in an uncertain situation. People may come out to vote out of of anger.

“This is a very serious matter. In addition, the unsatisfactory manner in which the government is handling the decline of the ringgit and weak economy, there is much risk at hand,” he added.

Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) director Muhammad Helmi Abdullah was previously reported to have said that general election could be hampered by major flooding due to the northeast monsoon if it were to be held in mid-November.

He said, there was a risk of continuous heavy rain and large-scale flooding.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said during the weekend that the Malay party is always ready if polls are held early, including if it occurs during the monsoon season.

He was widely panned by opposition leaders who said he was detached from the reality of the havoc floods would wreak on communities.

“Umno seems to have forgotten about the misery experienced by the people over the past decade due to the flood disaster,” PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli said.

“The two major flood incidents in Sri Muda (2021) and in Baling (this year) did not impact the Umno leadership, let alone convince them that the welfare of the people should be priority,” he said.

Arau Umno division leader Shahidan Kassim suggested that a committee be formed to study the appropriate time for the national polls to be held.

He said in view of the anticipated floods at the end of this year, it might have an impact on voter turnout if an election is held.

“There is a need for an in-depth study on whether we should have an election this year or next year.

“If the parliament is dissolved and flooding hits some states, certainly we need a caretaker (a government) to tackle flood-related issues. As such, there are pros and cons in having the election this year and next year,” he told the media yesterday at an event in Johor.

His party colleague and Ketereh lawmaker, Annuar Musa, said Zahid’s statement on holding elections during the monsoon had been misinterpreted.

The communications and multimedia minister said the Umno chief’s statement was actually referring to the preparedness of the BN election machinery to face the polls in any given situation.

“I would like to think that Zahid’s remarks gave emphasis on BN’s preparedness if GE15 is called during the flood season, and it doesn’t necessarily mean to have GE15 called despite the floods.

“I am just trying to clear things up. It was not about holding GE15 during the floods. The statement was misinterpreted as it was not issued officially in writing,” he told reporters yesterday. – TMI