PENANG deputy chief minister II Prof P. Ramasamy has slammed Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for saying that Barisan Nasional (BN) would not mind if the 15th general election (GE15) were to take place during the monsoon season, calling the statement “stupid, cruel and unkind”.
In pointing out GE15’s September 2023 deadline, the DAP lawmaker questioned Zahid’s need to exert constant pressure on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob for the elections to be held within the next two to three months.
“The call for the dissolution of Parliament to announce GE15 is inextricably related to the fears and concerns of the UMNO court cluster,” Ramasamy reckoned.
“Since former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been convicted and jailed, chances are high that others [from the court cluster] might [face a similar end].”
Ramasamy noted that Zahid is already in the docks for allegations of corruption although the trial has not been concluded yet, and that there are other UMNO leaders who might face corruption charges and possibly be convicted.
“Thus, the constant call for an early election is to save their skins before they are found guilty,” he added.
“There is a thought that UMNO might emerge triumphant in GE15 with the possibility that Najib might be pardoned and freed with the court cases of other [UMNO members] possibly postponed indefinitely – in other words, the corrupted UMNO leaders will emerge unscathed as a result of the party’s victory.”
Pointing to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd and the littoral combat ship (LCS) scandals, Ramasamy said, “I really don’t know how ordinary people could cast their votes in favour of UMNO or BN, having understood the diabolical nature of corruption and its effects on the country.”
He further suggested that an early election is needed not to just allow BN to return to power but also to ensure that the court cases against Zahid and other UMNO members are not finalised before then.
“Zahid is worried that if he is convicted, the possibilities of him remaining as UMNO president and BN chairman might be jeopardised,” Ramasamy noted.
“In this respect calling for an early election seems inextricably tied to saving Zahid from being convicted – pardoning Najib and freeing others might not even be his real priority.
“This is as though UMNO returning to power means that all the wrongdoings could be whitewashed.”
Last Saturday, Zahid said BN was willing to wade through flood waters to campaign for GE15 if it was held during the monsoon season.
The floods which hit the country late last year claimed 55 lives and saw more than 500,000 people displaced.
Public infrastructure, residential houses and crops destroyed during the floods also contributed to more than RM6 bil in losses.
The meteorological department expects the monsoon season to start in November and carry on until March next year.
“Difficult to control the party”
Ramasamy went on to reckon that Ismail Sabri would not be able to hold off GE15 for too long as the constant “obsession” on UMNO’s part is something that the Bera MP is finding difficult to deal with.
“The fact that he is only UMNO vice-president makes it difficult for him to control the party,” he remarked.
“He might have obtained the support of some of those aligned with Najib but Zahid by virtue of him being the president has a significant hold on the party.
“Zahid by virtue of him being president can nominate candidates for GE15 and Ismail Sabri is caught in a bind because if Zahid [does not] get his way he might not even nominate Ismail Sabri as a candidate.”
Acknowledging that Ismail Sabri is “under tremendous pressure”, Ramasamy pointed out that as the country’s prime minister, he would want GE15 to be held next year after the monsoon season is over, but as UMNO vice-president he has “no choice but to adhere to the directive of the UMNO president”.
“Ideally Ismail Sabri would prefer a scenario where Zahid would be convicted of corruption because if this happens then Ismail Sabri would be acting more like a prime minister than a second-echelon UMNO leader,” he added.
“It really baffles me to think that UMNO is equating an early election to its victory. Therefore, Malaysians must make up their mind whether they want UMNO and BN to return to power as the consequences would be devastating, to say the least.
“Heavy rains and possibilities of floods would disrupt the lives of ordinary people but yet UMNO leaders like Zahid have no concerns for the hardship that might befall the people during the monsoon season.” – Sept 20, 2022