Malaysia’s General Election 15: Introduction and Summary
By Edika Amin | October 18, 2022
Photo by Patrick Langwallner on Unsplash
Following a meeting between Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Malaysia’s King on 9 October 2022, the King has officially consented to the dissolution of Parliament, paving the path for the 15th general election effective 10 October 2022. This was announced by outgoing Prime Minister Yaacob Minister in a televised address.
Following this, after the Election Commission (EC) is notified of the dissolution of Parliament, it will fix an election date which must happen in 60 days. The EC has stated that they will announce the date to name candidates and the election date by 20th October 2022.
At the time of writing this blog post (18 October 2022) there may be some hints that the election will be held in early November (as early as 5th November 2022) based on the following cues:
- The King has insisted that elections need to be held before the start of the monsoon season which will likely start on 15 November 2022.
- A short campaign period, once announced by the EC will allow Barisan Nasional (comprising of United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC)) to capitalize on the momentum as opposition parties have yet to effectively mobilize for the upcoming elections.
- UMNO has been the first party to announce that they will be contesting 191 out of 222 parliamentary seats which suggests they have been plotting for an early snap election month prior to the dissolution of parliament.
What happens when a Parliament is Dissolved:
There are a few things that take place once parliament is officially dissolved among then include:
- Caretaker Government: There is no provision for a caretaker government in the Malaysian Constitution. The notion of a caretaker government is essentially a parliamentary or constitutional convention in line with the Westminster parliamentary system. As such, the current government will automatically be the caretaker government. What we have witnessed in the past week is the Barisan Nasional Ministers have continued to remain in office however, Ministers from Perikatan Nasional (comprising of Bersatu and PAS) have quietly left office to prepare for the elections.
- Role of Election Commission: The Election Commission will need to announce a nomination date and a polling date within 60 days. The campaign period officially takes place between the nomination date and the polling date. A decision from EC is imminent on 20 October 2022.
- Government Operations: The civil service, along with all authorities such as the police force, will continue to function as is and the Chief Secretary would continue as the head of civil service. In the ministries, there will be no handing over of new contracts or government projects, as everything has to go through Parliament. Further, awards and projects which have already been passed before Parliament was dissolved will continue to be carried out and will not be disrupted by the dissolution.
- Passing of Laws: No new legislation can be passed nor new policies will be signed by any ministers. Effectively, all Bills have been put on hold including Budget 2023 which was presented on 7 October 2022.
What to Expect
- Impact on Budget 2023: Budget 2023, will have to be re-tabled as the new government is not bound by a Budget tabled by the previous government. Similarly, in 1999, the whole process from the first reading will be repeated once the new government has been formed after the elections are over.
- State Elections: May not run parallel with Federal Elections. With the exception of Melaka, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak, other States are encouraged to hold State Elections in parallel with Federal Elections. To date, Selangor and Penang have both rejected holding State Elections until 2023.
- Key Parties: It will be a three-way tussle between Barisan Nasional, Perikatan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan. East Malaysia Parties and smaller coalitions (Gerakan Tanah Air) will also play a major role in determining the next Government.
- Momentum is with Barisan Nasional especially if they can get the backing of East Malaysia parties such as Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).
- The opposition remains in a state of disarray. It remains to be seen if Pakatan Harapan (Democratic Action Party (PKR), People’s Justice Party (DAP), National Trust Party (Amanah)) would be willing to work with Perikatan Nasional especially as many Members in the party led to the downfall of the Pakatan Harapan Government.
Predictions: While not impossible, Pakatan Harapan will need to win a majority of Peninsular Malaysia and hope new cooperation and a strong showing from Warisan in Sabah can help tip them to a victory. The margins remain very thin and at this juncture, it seems highly probable that Barisan Nasional will retake the Government with Ismail Sabri continuing as Prime Minister at least until the next UMNO party elections scheduled for December 2022.