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Malaysian PM dissolves parliament, calls snap polls

October 10, 2022

Ismail Sabri Yaakob's announcement comes amid government infighting and a waning public mandate. An election must be held within 60 days of the dissolution of parliament.

Ismail Sabri Yaakob in May this year
Ismail Sabri Yaakob has served as Malaysia's prime minister since August 2021Image: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP

Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob dissolved parliament on Monday, paving the way for snap elections to be held in the coming weeks.

"Yesterday I met the king... and I sought his permission to dissolve the parliament," Ismail said in a televised address to the nation. "And the king agreed to my request to dissolve parliament today."

An election must be held within 60 days of the dissolution of parliament.

In the same announcement, Ismail also called for the dissolution of Malaysia's 13 state parliaments.

Monsoon season a threat

The move to dissolve parliament follows calls for early elections by Ismail's own party, the United Malays National Organisation (UNMO), to bring the vote forward.

The next election was not due until September of next year, but Ismail faced strong pressure from within the party to capitalize on an opposition in disarray and settle infighting within the ruling coalition.

The vote will likely be held around November, before the year-end monsoon season that often brings devastating floods.

Opposition parties have protested any plans to hold elections during the monsoon season, as have some figures from within the ruling coalition.

"This is an UMNO versus the people election," said opposition lawmaker Liew Chin Tong.

PM's party hoping for a stronger mandate

The UNMO had been feuding with smaller parties in its coalition and was hoping for a big win on its own.

"Ismail Sabri has succumbed to pressure by his party UMNO, serving the shortest tenure as a PM, and entering the country into polls during a dangerous season of monsoon floods,'' Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asia expert with Malaysia's Nottingham University, told the Associated Press.

"UMNO believes it has the advantage with early polls and has maintained pressure as they hope to return to power as the dominant party."

Malaysia has had three prime ministers since longtime leader Najib Razak and his associates were accused of embezzling at least $4.5 billion (€4.6 billion) in the 1MDB scandal in 2018. Najib was sentenced to 12 years in jail in August for the initial batch of charges

In a statement, the palace said King Al-Sultan Abdullah was disappointed at recent political developments and hoped the electoral commission would call an election as soon as possible.

zc/fb (AP, Reuters)