Mr Ismail Sabri is the third prime minister appointed in this parliamentary term.
After GE14 in May 2018, Dr Mahathir Mohamad become Malaysia’s 7th prime minister for 22 months under the coalition Pakatan Harapan government, before it lost power in February 2020 and he was replaced by Mr Muhyiddin and his Perikatan Nasional government.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Malaysia witnessed four state elections held after GE14, namely in Sabah, Melaka, Sarawak and Johor.
Mr Ismail Sabri’s political coalition, the Barisan Nasional (BN), successfully won back the states of Melaka and Johor – each with a two-thirds majority – and formed a new state government in Sabah with the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah party.
Mr Ismail Sabri, who is the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party’s MP for the Bera constituency, said BN’s success in the state election in Melaka in November last year and in Johor last March cannot be used as a guarantee of success for the coalition in GE15.
With Johor, he said BN’s landslide victory was probably made possible by low voter turnout due to COVID-19 concerns – but the situation may differ during GE15.
“Some people may think that election at the state level is not so important … But for the federal level, it’s totally different,” said Mr Ismail Sabri.
“Amid their COVID concerns, the voters will come out and vote to make sure that their parties can form a new government. That’s why I think BN’s success in Melaka and Johor cannot be used as a guarantee of success or support for us.”
On the UMNO leadership’s suggestion to have GE15 held this year, Mr Ismail Sabri said that all five leaders including himself can make any suggestion, but the power to dissolve the parliament belongs to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or king of Malaysia.
“The ‘top five’ can discuss anything … if I bring their suggestion to the Cabinet and the Cabinet agrees and even sets a date for it, and then I bring it to Agong and he doesn’t agree, it will not happen,” said the prime minister.
UMNO’s “top five” refers to president Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, deputy president Mr Mohamad Hasan and the three vice-presidents Mr Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Mr Mahdzir Khalid and Mr Ismail Sabri himself.
Unlike before, Mr Ismail Sabri said the dissolution of parliament needs to be discussed by the Cabinet as BN is not the only coalition forming the current government.
The federal government led by Mr Ismail Sabri and formed in August last year consists of three coalitions – BN, Perikatan Nasional and Gabungan Parti Sarawak.