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Is Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob concerned that the floods announced by the local meteorological department will jeopardise the general elections?

Let us see some headlines in a leading mainstream newspaper in Malaysia:

Oct 25 2022, GE15: Govt prepared should it flood during polls, says Ismail Sabri

Nov 6 2022, GE15: Up to EC to call off polls in the event of major floods, says PM

Surveys, analysts and intelligence reports are beginning to forecast Pakatan Harapan is in the lead through opinion polls. Is this reason for the backflip for UMNO leadership on calling off GE15 on Nov 19?

Now Malaysians are wondering why Caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob sounded irrational going against his Parliament dissolution leading the way to the announcement of the general elections. If GE15 is postponed, Ismail gets to warm the PMO seat longer. Now, he does not have to bow to any pressure from UMNO’s president. At the same time, Ismail will score brownie points with voters by not holding GE15 during the floods.

Why, in the first place, Ismail dissolved Parliament? Is it because UMNO President Dato Seri Ahmad Zahid bin Hamidi pressured Ismail to bring forward GE15 despite the flood warning? Or is it because Zahid’s popularity wanes with a lack of credibility, and the court cluster is in haste to regain Putrajaya, Ismail had to announce the dissolution of Parliament?

The 14th Parliament of Malaysia was dissolved on Oct 10 2022. Ismail dissolved Parliament as he was assured he would be the next Prime Minister if Barisan Nasional won GE 15. The political scenario changed as Zahid, with a forked tongue, later commented that he would be the next Prime Minister if Barisan Nasional won.

Uncertainty over the general elections

Less than a month later, on Nov 6, Ismail flip-flopped and decided to stay in office if GE15 was postponed.

About three months ago, Malaysians urged the Government to postpone GE15 as the floods would affect all Malaysians. The Government knew of the coming monsoon season but called for elections, saying they were ready for monsoon polls. So, why talk of postponement now? It is indeed a U-turn to postpone GE15 when all previous protests and appeals fell on deaf ears.

What shocked Malaysians is that 12 days later, after Ismail’s dissolution, backtracking, he said: “Up to EC to call off elections in the event of major floods,” contradicting his earlier statement on the need to call for early polls.

The Government is prepared to face the possibility of floods during the 15th General Election Initially, he said: “In case of floods, we will make arrangements for polling centres not to be disrupted. A total of 6,010 temporary relocation centers (PPS) has been identified in the event of floods. From the total PPS, 2,010 centres also double as voting centres.”

“District officers have been entrusted with the task of finding alternative locations for PPS as well as in case of an overlap,” he told a press conference after attending a briefing by the police on preparations for the General Election and possible floods at Bukit Aman on Tuesday (Oct 25).

“However, if floods do occur. It will not happen at all once nationwide. Be it as it may, we have made necessary preparations,” he said. Ismail Sabri said the police, other relevant agencies such as the Fire and Rescue Department, and the Armed Forces had made ample preparations to face the possibility of floods.

EC can now decide?

Flip flop on Nov 6,  he said: “It is up to the Election Commission (EC) to decide whether to stop the 15th General Election (GE15) if massive floods hit the country, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

He said meetings would be held with the EC and related agencies to look for possible alternatives to proceed with the election process in the event of major floods.

“If major floods prevent people from going out (to vote), then I will discuss with the EC to see if there are alternatives. We will discuss with MetMalaysia (Malaysian Meteorological Department), the Disaster Management Committee, and the EC can also give its views. It is up to the EC to stop the election,” he said at a press conference after attending a “People’s Feast” with the Bandar Kemayan community on Sunday (Nov 6).

On Nov 4, MetMalaysia forecasted that the northeast monsoon season would begin on Nov 7 and last until March next year, and it could result in flooding in low-lying and riverine areas. Even Yang di-Pertuan Agong expressed concern about the floods after a briefing by Met Department.

Opposition parties and Malaysians were upset with the dissolution of Parliament to pave the way for GE15. Party leaders and NGOs voiced against holding the elections during the monsoon. Yesterday (Nov 7), the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) issued a continuous rain warning at the alert level for Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Johor from tomorrow (Nov 8) until Friday.

Be assured voters will express their frustration in the ballot box for the vested interest and flip-flops of the leadership. So, is the Government postponing to make the voters happy? Is it a bit too late? Over to the voters to decide the next ruling Government. Every vote counts.

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