Parties start GE15 campaigns

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Political parties have started their campaigns for the 15th general election (GE15) after lying low for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, lockdowns and state of emergency.

Many are expecting Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who is under pressure from his party Umno, to call for snap polls this year, despite there being another 12 months before the current parliament is automatically dissolved on July 16 next year.

An Umno faction led by president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and former president Najib Razak is the one piling the pressure on Ismail Sabri.

Zahid has ongoing abuse of power and corruption trials, while Najib is appealing a corruption conviction.

But while Ismail Sabri is still undecided about when to hold GE15, other parties have kicked off their campaigns.

“We have started our campaigns for GE15,” PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil told The Malaysian Insight.

The Lembah Pantai MP said this after Pakatan Harapan (PH) got its Jelajah Selangor campaign off the ground in Morib, Banting, on Saturday.

“There will be more Jelajah programmes covering other areas.”

PH, well-known for its ceramah campaigns, will also expand the programmes to include other PH-led states like Penang and Negri Sembilan.

PH chairman Anwar Ibrahim on Saturday led several Selangor PH leaders in their first ceramah in Morib.

Fahmi said: “If we can attend concerts and watch football games in stadiums, and most if not all of the economic sectors have reopened, ceramah campaigns are also doable.”

But while PH rode the ceramah wave to success in 2008, 2013 and 2018, the strategy received lukewarm response from voters in the state elections in Malacca and Johor.

Fahmi said the ceramah itself does not motivate voters.

“It is about the issues we raise, the solutions we propose, and the fact that Barisan Nasional (BN) and Perikatan Nasional (PN) have failed Malaysians.

“Voters are aware that GE15, depending on its timing, will be about kleptocrats wanting to be back in power to do as they wish – this is something Malaysians must stand against.”

Bersatu supreme council member Dr Muhammad Faiz Na’aman said his party is also planning a nationwide tour in preparation for GE15.

The PN component will focus on its grassroots, he added.

He said there are social and political activities planned and “we will partner with PAS and other PN components” in certain areas.

“We are focusing on our grassroots and our relationship between PN parties.”

While the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and 1Malaysia Development Bhd were hot topics in GE14, PH will focus on inflation in GE15.

Fahmi said: “Cost of living issues, and those who can present novel yet practical ideas that can win the hearts of the electorate, will be at the forefront.”

GE15, more than any prior GE, will likely be a seat-by-seat fight, he added.

The then opposition team ended BN’s 61-year rule by campaigning against GST and Najib in 2018. It won 113 out of 22 seats in the Dewan Rakyat.

It conducted campaigns spearheaded by its ceramah nationwide since 2017, and enjoyed record turnouts.

The Najib-led BN lost in 54 seats to finish at just 79 seats, which were subsequently reduced to 61 after Sarawak parties quit the coalition.

The Sarawak parties formed Gabungan Parti Sarawak, which is now the main bloc in the state.

Meanwhile, Dr Faiz said his party is still fine-tuning its campaign issues.

“We are still working on it. PN will announce it as soon as it is finalised.”

But PH and PN are not the only coalitions that have started their campaign for GE15.

Umno has begun ramping up its activities and programmes in areas whose seats they are eyeing to retake.

Among these seats is the Kuala Selangor constituency, in which Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz has attended more functions.

The long-time Umno member is expected to make his election debut in Kuala Selangor. He was made a cabinet member by PN.

Meanwhile, Warisan launched its first state office in Seremban, Negri Sembilan, on June 19. – TMI