The deputy prime minister reveals that even September is too soon

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s 14th general election will be held after September, said Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Speaking at ruling party UMNO’s Hari Raya open house at the Putra World Trade Centre yesterday, Zahid said: “(September) is too soon; it (the general elections) will be held beyond that.”

Channel NewsAsia reported that this comes after widespread speculation that Prime Minister Najib Razak will call for an election after the Southeast Asian Games, which will be held this August in Kuala Lumpur.

Najib’s solid track record

A total of 50,000 Malaysians turned up at the open house on Sunday.

Najib, who is president of Umno, said the massive turnout is a testimony of the support and confidence Malaysians have towards the ruling Barisan Nasional government that has been in power for 60 years.

“This is the government with a 60-year track record. Umno is 71 years old. We have led the country to where it is today and not just that, we have a vision for the future … a clear leadership structure, a clear hierarchy, a clear direction and clear capabilities,” said Najib, speaking to media at the open house.

Conversely, opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan has been plagued by leadership uncertainties, Najib said.

“As ordinary people, why would you want to take that risk when there is Umno and BN with solid track records. Although some are not very happy with what they see as shortcomings and weaknesses – but by and large, the world has credited us for the country’s proud achievements,” said Najib.

At the event, Najib also challenged the leader of the opposition coalition, Mahathir Mohamad, to state whether he stood by his remarks in September 1998.

Mahathir had accused then-deputy prime mininster Anwar Ibrahim of exhibiting immoral behaviour and being unfit to lead the country.

Anwar was once a protege of the former prime minister and the rising star of Malaysian politics, but they fell out in the late 1990s.

Soon afterwards, Anwar was jailed on charges of sodomy and graft, after being sacked as the deputy prime minister. He denied the charges, dismissing them as politically motivated.

He was convicted and jailed for five years in 2013, when Najib was prime minister, for another sodomy charge, which he and his supporters described as a politically motivated attempt to end his career.

Mahathir has said that if Pakatan Harapan wins the upcoming elections, they will begin the process of freeing Anwar within one week of forming the next government.