KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said in Sabah today that the result of the state election could determine when he will call a general election.
Muhyiddin is believed to be contemplating an early general election early next year to dispel views that his Perikatan Nasional administration was a “backdoor government”.
PN took over after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s resignation as the prime minister in February caused the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan administration.
In August, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan told Parliament it could cost RM1.2 billion to hold a general election alongside the Covid-19 pandemic.
Muhyiddin is in Sabah where a premature state election was called after former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman of Umno mounted an abortive takeover bid on the back of lawmakers’ defections.
“At the national level, we haven’t decided when the general election should be called… but if we win the state election in Sabah… we should quickly hold the general election,” he was quoted as saying by national news agency Bernama.
Muhyiddin said the Sabah election result would be an indicator of public support for him and the PN government.
The prime minister sought to apply his personal popularity to the informal Gabungan Rakyat Sabah coalition that was challenging the incumbent Warisan Plus coalition, saying that backing the former would essentially be endorsing his leadership.
He also repeated the coalition’s argument that it would be more beneficial for Sabah if the state and federal governments were both the same.
GRS includes Muhyiddin’s PN, Barisan Nasional and aligned Sabah Opposition parties.
Muhyiddin’s message today was a continuation of the apparent GRS strategy to play up Muhyiddin’s personal popularity, which independent pollster Merdeka Center put as 69 per cent positive in a recent rating.
Bereft of any clear candidate to be the GRS chief minister — due to the disagreement between PN and BN over which should provide one — the coalition has sought to highlight Muhyiddin in the campaign despite the fact that he was not personally contesting any of the state constituencies.
PN has put up billboards and posters touting Muhyiddin as “abah kita (our father)” to imply a patriarchal relationship between the prime minister and Malaysians, which was met with mixed response from Sabahans.
Polling for the Sabah election is on September 26.