COMMENTARY, April 5 — Umno, the backbone of Barisan Nasional (BN), is in real trouble as its president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s leadership is being challenged.

At the same time, the party’s comrade-in-arms — PAS — has “switched” to supporting ruling Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) saying the party supports parties with credible leaders and not those defending problematic leaders in the name of Malay unity and Islam.

While the future of Umno and BN may look gloomy if Zahid does not step down soon ahead of the general elections, the question that arises is: Will there be a general election soon?

Currently, the ruling coalition with Bersatu as the dominant party is also facing various problems, the most important of which is the havoc Covid-19 has wreaked on the country’s economy. This is, of course, a global problem.

Economically, the country is just beginning to recover from the economic downturn with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) closing shop the past year and nearly a million workers out of jobs.

The recovery, even with government aid, is expected to be slow as the general population is still awaiting vaccination.

Education is a year behind since schools and universities were closed and only now reopened.

People are busy rebuilding their lives and concerned about their health now with all thoughts of politics (if any) taking a back seat.

The ones making noise and getting worked up over such matters such are the politicians themselves and party operators who see the opportunity to further their aspirations.

The Emergency will be over by August 1 and after that, it’s back to the ruling coalition continuing to rebuild the economy.

This process is not going to be completed in the very near future so calling for a general election at a time when the economy is just restarting may even be deemed irresponsible.

The government should continue giving out aid, plan rescue packages for industries badly affected until we see some economic growth before making a political move i.e. dissolving Parliament and holding a general election.

The people may not want to gamble with their lives (and livelihoods) at a time when they are in dire straits by going to the polls.

Besides that, young would-be voters are crying foul as the Election Commission (EC) said the process of online registration for these 18-year-olds will only be ready by next year.

The government may want to be fair to these first-time voters, regardless which party they will vote for, by not holding the general election now and only when these voters are eligible which is next June.

Against such a background, the government may well hold the general election next year.