The schism in Umno has widened as party head Ahmad Zahid Hamidi called for nationwide elections in the aftermath of the party’s landslide victory in the Johor state elections.
Many Umno Cabinet members, however, are opposing his demand.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has said that the 15th General Election (GE15) should be postponed until the public health condition improves.
Because Malaysia will enter the endemic phase of the Covid-19 pandemic on April 1, Khairy believes it is prudent to postpone actions that may hamper the country’s recovery effort.
“And a general election is something that we can postpone until the public health situation has stabilised,” says the Minister.
Nevertheless, the debate is still raging in Umno which is holding its General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur.
Although the Cabinet has the authority to dissolve Parliament in order to hold the 15th General Election (GE15), Zahid believes it is Umno’s right to choose the party’s future.
“Umno is a party which upholds the Federal Constitution. We understand that the authority to dissolve Parliament falls under the decision of the Cabinet, in which, the prime minister will advise and seek approval from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King),” he says.
But the cabinet, dominated by Umno members, does not seem to be in a hurry to decide on elections.
Khairy also complimented Zahid for delegating Parliament’s dissolution to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
“He had said that although the party grassroots want to see the general election to be held early, he would leave the matter to the prime minister to decide.
“And I am sure, the prime minister will take into consideration several matters.
“Apart from the country’s recovery process, there is the Memorandum of Understanding (between the government) and the opposition. The prime minister will also seek the views from the Health Ministry on the public health situation of the country,” he said.
On the other hand, Zahid, in his speech at the party’s assembly said there are no factions in the party.
“If there are factions, it is the Umno faction,” he said, after calling for the party members to unite and to show strength.