Is the next general election soon? How soon will it be? Usually the word "soon" will indicate a period of less than 6 months.
My instinct says that it wont be anytime within the next 6 months. Reason is because I think neither BN nor our Prime Minister has recovered from the 47% popularity votes since the last GE.
There are however some good reasons why the Prime Minister may call for polls in second half of 2017.
First reason is obvious - the less-than-pretty prospects of our economy will continue to impact the majority of middle-to-low class income earners. Amidst the speculations on Ringgit, oil price, job market etc which have caused tremendous unease among the people, the government seems unable to provide a good answer.
Since the O&G crisis, Malaysia economy has taken some good damage and the people can't just simply switch to home cooked food or take up 2 jobs to cope with it. If the Constitution doesn't allow next GE to be held after the crisis (economy is expected to recover after 2018), it is best to have the GE before the real storm hits.
Second, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia has indeed gathered more strength than critics. PPBM was established with one very clear objective - to fight head on with UMNO. It's a strategic move to establish PPBM and make it known as a "political party for Bumiputera" as it must be seen to be an alternative to the Malay-based UMNO. UMNO could of course rely on PAS' private members' Bill to enhance Shariah courts' powers, which is purely politically motivated, to capture more votes among Malay voters. However, the prolonged tabling process of the bill has given enough time for the average citizens to realise PAS' motive behind it, as well as proven how BN will not come to a clear consensus in befriending PAS. Hence, it may be more logical to call for polls before UMNO's magic trick with PAS is busted.
It is also not to forget that 1MDB scandal is also giving the Prime Minister a hard time and the investigation from Department of Justice will only add weights to his shoulder. Besides, the recent re-delineation proposal which will heavily favour BN will have been passed in second half of 2017.
High tide (or in this case, low tide) waits for nobody and BN knows it very well. BN's victory in the two by-elections and Sarawak's state election cannot be deemed as a good indicator of BN's popularity (I've explained in my post on April 21, 2016 and June 18, 2016). However, instead of calling the bluff, it is wiser for opposition to continue reaching out to the 53% who placed trust in them and the 47% who have not.