KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 — The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) has backed Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s administration to complete the term of the 14th Parliament, suggesting this would aid both Barisan Nasional (BN) and the Opposition parties.
In an interview with Malay Mail, PSM secretary-general Sivarajan Arumugam said Ismail Sabri only stood to gain by resisting an early 15th general election, despite Umno’s pressure for him to dissolve Parliament sooner than needed.
“I think Ismail Sabri will go full term, because that is the best for him... and secondly, he also wants to get support and there are a lot of Bills he wants to pass in the October Parliament [meeting].
“So, if you really ask me, the only fellows who really want to have the election are the court clusters, even I don’t think the Ismail Sabri is interested to have it now,” said Sivarajan in the interview.
The term “court clusters” refers to politicians such as Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who is currently facing corruption charges, and disgraced former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is now imprisoned over the SRC International Sdn Bhd case.
Over the past few months, many top leaders in Umno have been publicly pressuring Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri to call for an early general election.
Speaking of the preparedness of the Opposition parties to face a snap poll, Sivarajan said he believed they were already laying the groundwork.
“Opposition also, if I look at how and what Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and others are saying, everyone has just started moving to set up their machinery,
“I saw Anwar going up and down and appointing state leaders for elections, so they also need more time to build up their party. So I think even the Opposition will be happy to have the election next year because they also want to build up their base,” he added.
Sivarajan said his party felt there was no need to rush for the next general election.
He also told Malay Mail that Ismail Sabri could gain more political capital for BN through the passage of critical legislation at the next parliamentary meeting.
“There’s no reason to rush now actually, because the Budget 2023 is coming, which I think is really important,
“And there are also some bills they are already talking about which we think are good, like GEG (Control of Tobacco Products and Smoking Bill 2022), Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2019 (to limit the tenure of prime minister to two terms), the political funding bill, and the tabling of the Health White Paper,” he said.
He added the Health White Paper that aimed at increasing the budget for the health ministry to 5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is something close to PSM’s heart.
Sivarajan said the party has been fighting for healthcare reforms since the early 2000s, and was among the first ones to fight against the privatisation of health care.
“Now the biggest problem with Health Ministry is the budget. Like what we see in Covid time we have lots of hospitals overflowing with patients, so there’s a problem with the budget.
“Our problem is that government must increase the health budget, but looking at what the government is thinking, is they think they have no budget to increase for the Health Ministry,
“So they are looking more at the insurance-based scheme, which means asking you to buy insurance so that the insurance can pay for health, which is very dangerous,” he added.
He warned that moving to a privately funded healthcare system will deprive the majority of people who cannot afford insurance or services of private hospitals.
“We think that there should be a tax-based system, not GST-tax-based, but you go for a more progressive kind of income tax or wealth tax to fund your system,
“But since there is so much corruption like leakage and everywhere, we should have some money for healthcare,” said Sivarajan.
Previously, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar confirmed that the Budget 2023 will be tabled on October 7, three weeks ahead than previously scheduled.
However, Wan Junaidi denied that the change was due to the rumoured early general election.
Malaysia is not due for a general election until September 2023 but Umno has been pressing for an early poll after their landslide victories in recent state elections.