Malaysian PM Wait­ing for In­spi­ra­tion to Call Polls


KUALA LUMPUR (Dis­patches) - Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak on Tues­day said he was wait­ing for in­spi­ra­tion to de­cide the right time to call a gen­eral elec­tion, with less than six months re­main­ing un­til the end of his five-year term.

Na­jib faces an un­prece­dented chal­lenge in this year’s elec­tion from his for­mer men­tor and ex-pre­mier, Ma­hathir Mo­hamad, who turned on the prime min­is­ter over his han­dling of a multi-bil­lion dol­lar scan­dal in­volv­ing a state fund. “I’m wait­ing for some sort of spark, or what the Malays call ‘il­ham’,” Na­jib told a news con­fer­ence, us­ing the Malay word for in­spi­ra­tion.

Na­jib has un­til June 24 to call for elec­tions, fail­ing which par­lia­ment dis­solves au­to­mat­i­cally. Polls must be held within 60 days from the date of dis­so­lu­tion.

“Whether we wait un­til June or make it ear­lier, we’ll see how things de­velop,” the prime min­is­ter said.

Af­ter news broke in 2015 of hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars al­legedly mis­ap­pro­pri­ated from state fund 1Malaysia De­vel­op­ment Ber­had (1MDB), Na­jib moved quickly to quell dis­sent, sack­ing crit­ics from his cab­i­net and rul­ing party and clamp­ing down on a dam­ag­ing in­ter­nal probe.

He has de­nied any wrong­do­ing. The scan­dal has since pit him against Ma­hathir, who joined hands with old ri­vals in the op­po­si­tion to lead ef­forts to un­seat Na­jib and his un­de­feated United Malays Na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UMNO) coali­tion. But Na­jib is still widely ex­pected to win, thanks to a di­vided op­po­si­tion, an up­beat econ­omy and the re­draw­ing of elec­toral bound­aries that crit­ics say fa­vors the gov­ern­ment, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey pub­lished in De­cem­ber by in­de­pen­dent polling firm Merdeka Cen­tre.

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