Malaysia Heads for Biggest State Poll Under New PM Next Month
(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia will hold its largest state election under Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s administration on Dec. 18, a month after his coalition clinched a resounding victory in local polls.
Votes will be cast for 82 state assembly seats in the Borneo state of Sarawak, according to the Election Commission. Nomination day will be on Dec. 6 while early voting is on Dec. 14, EC chief Abdul Ghani Salleh said in a briefing.
The Sarawak poll result could influence the timing and outcome of the general election that’s due to be held before July 2023. Talk of advancing the election already emerged after former premier Najib Razak led the ruling alliance to win 21 of 28 seats in Malacca last Saturday.
The local elections put Malaysia at risk of a renewed surge in Covid infections. Several leaders were fined for violating Covid protocols during the Malacca election, according to the Health Ministry. Meanwhile, the polls in Sabah state last year fueled a fresh wave of new cases and strict movement restrictions, precipitating the downfall of the previous government.
To be sure, Malaysia’s rapid vaccination progress may prevent the repeat of a nationwide lockdown. Nearly 77% of the population have received their full jabs as of Wednesday, and the country is widening its coverage of booster shots, according to Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
Malaysia’s king in early November ended the emergency in Sarawak months ahead of schedule, paving the way for the state to dissolve its assembly and elect a new government. Sarawak is home to some of the largest aluminum smelters, hydroelectric dams and plantation estates in Southeast Asia.
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