April polls day?

While many are spec­u­lat­ing that Par­lia­ment will be dis­solved in March next year, it is likely that the highly an­tic­i­pated 14th gen­eral elec­tion will be held be­tween April and mid-May. An­a­lysts point to sev­eral im­por­tant events in the months ahead paving t

The Star Malaysia - - Front Page - By RAZAK AH­MAD and WANI MUTHIAH news­desk@thes­tar.com.my

PETALING JAYA: The 14th gen­eral elec­tion is likely to be held be­tween April and midMay, with the win­dow to call for polls this year prac­ti­cally slammed shut.

The Barisan Na­sional’s five-year term ends on June 24 next year, and an elec­tion must be held within 60 days fol­low­ing the dis­so­lu­tion of the De­wan Rakyat.

It is any­one’s guess when Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Tun Razak will seek the dis­so­lu­tion of Par­lia­ment, but much of the spec­u­la­tion has been about dis­so­lu­tion af­ter Chi­nese New Year in Fe­bru­ary with polls in March.

There is even a What­sApp mes­sage go­ing around claim­ing that the dis­so­lu­tion will be on Thurs­day.

An­a­lysts and sources how­ever noted sev­eral key events tak­ing place which point to a sweet spot of op­por­tu­nity be­tween the end of the Chi­nese New Year cel­e­bra­tion and the start of the fast­ing month in May.

Prof Dr Sha­harud­din Badarud­din of Univer­siti Se­lan­gor said it is not likely that polls can be held this year.

“Even if the Prime Min­is­ter dis­solves Par­lia­ment to­mor­row, it nor­mally takes be­tween three weeks and about a month for polling to be held.

“This would mean polling will be in mid-De­cem­ber, right in the mid­dle of mon­soon sea­son when floods of­ten oc­cur in the east coast states in the penin­sula,” he said.

Sha­harud­din added that Jan­uary would be a busy time for par­ents set­tling in their chil­dren for the new school term, fol­lowed by Chi­nese New Year which falls on Feb 16.

Prof Dr Si­va­mu­ru­gan Pan­dian from Univer­siti Sains Malaysia ex­pects GE14 to be held some­time be­tween April and the start of Ra­madan.

“I feel it will more likely be in April as this will al­low Na­jib to give a full re­port card of his suc­cesses af­ter com­plet­ing nine years as Prime Min­is­ter,” he said.

Na­jib was ap­pointed as the coun­try’s leader on April 3, 2009.

Sources said elec­tions af­ter May would be cut­ting it too close to the start of fast­ing fol­lowed by Hari Raya Aidil­fitri in June.

Datuk Seri An­war Ibrahim is un­likely to be re­leased from prison in time for the elec­tion cam­paign.

On Feb 10, 2015, the Fed­eral Court re­jected An­war’s ap­peal against his con­vic­tion and fiveyear jail term im­posed by the Court of Ap­peal on March 7, the pre­vi­ous year for sodomy.

An­war’s lawyer Latheefa Koya said that even with an ex­pected one-third re­mis­sion of his jail term for good be­hav­iour, he is ex­pected to be freed on June 9 next year.

De­spite the win­dow, an­a­lysts point out that there have been cases where Par­lia­ment was dis­solved un­ex­pect­edly.

Two ex­am­ples are in 1999 when polling was on Nov 29 dur­ing mon­soon sea­son, and in 2008 when Par­lia­ment was dis­solved on Feb 13, six days af­ter Chi­nese New Year.

Wanita Umno chief Tan Sri Shahrizat Ab­dul Jalil said the Prime Min­is­ter has given no hint so far on when the elec­tions would be held.

“Each time we ask him, he would just smile and ask us if we are ready. He has told us to be ready any time,” she added.

Asked on the win­dow of op­por­tu­nity next year, Barisan strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Datuk Seri Ab­dul Rah­man Dahlan said it is spec­u­la­tion.

“The elec­tion ob­vi­ously can­not be held dur­ing the mon­soon so the win­dow to have it this year is clos­ing shut,” he said.

Ab­dul Rah­man said Na­jib, who is Barisan chair­man, will de­cide on a date to seek the dis­so­lu­tion of Par­lia­ment af­ter tak­ing into ac­count many fac­tors and af­ter con­sul­ta­tion with the coali­tion’s com­po­nent party lead­ers.

“We, as the Gov­ern­ment, have done our best, and we feel sup­port by the peo­ple in­creas­ing.

“The peo­ple be­lieve in our eco­nomic poli­cies and vi­sion for Malaysia which is doable and prac­ti­cal com­pared to what the Op­po­si­tion is promis­ing,” said Ab­dul Rah­man, who is also Min­is­ter in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Depart­ment.

Amanah com­mu­ni­ca­tion di­rec­tor Khalid Sa­mad, mean­while, said the Prime Min­is­ter should call for an elec­tion as soon as pos­si­ble.

“The Op­po­si­tion is get­ting more or­gan­ised, the price of oil is in­creas­ing and his pop­u­lar­ity is not go­ing up, this would be the best time for him,” said Khalid.

Se­lan­gor PAS com­mis­sioner Salle­hen Mukhyi be­lieves the polls would be held from March on­wards.

He said this was be­cause the re­de­lin­eation ex­er­cise would have been com­pleted with new con­stituency bor­ders ap­proved by Par­lia­ment.

“The re­de­lin­eation ex­er­cise will be very ad­van­ta­geous for the rul­ing coali­tion and they want that com­pleted be­fore the polls,” he said.

Salle­hen also brushed aside talk that the elec­tion may be held in De­cem­ber this year.

“I don’t think it will be held in De­cem­ber due to the rainy weather and floods,” he said.

I feel this will al­low Na­jib to give a full re­port card of his suc­cesses af­ter com­plet­ing nine y years as Prime Min­is­ter.

Prof Dr Si­va­mu­ru­gan Pan­dian

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