Sunday, 13 May 2012

No polls until July, says Selangor

SHAH ALAM, May 13 — Selangor will not follow Putrajaya in holding elections if they are held before the second half of the year, insisting that it has “obligations” to meet before going to the ballot box as speculation mounts of a possible general election in June.

Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim told The Malaysian Insider that the RM300 million Selangorku social welfare grant is still being pushed out and includes a RM2 million voter outreach project that will only be completed by the end of June.

“We found there are 435,000 names, new and also those that have left a constituency. We say to ourselves, 435,000 is a lot of people,” the Selangor mentri besar said in a recent interview.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) had said last month it wants to delay polls in Selangor until the Election Commission (EC) cleans up the electoral roll in the PKR-controlled state which the federal opposition says has ballooned by 35 per cent since Election 2008.

Although Khalid said he did not “want to come up with any conclusion now” as to the authenticity of the changes to the electoral roll, he said the project would “make sure everyone knows what they’re supposed to do and level the playing field.”

“By the end of June we will provide the whole analysis of what makes up the 435,000,” the Ijok assemblyman said, adding that the figure emerged after a comparison of the electoral rolls used in the last election against the March 31, 2012 gazette.

He said the project would see the state government “provide a service far beyond the EC” to “meet each and every one of them, to know whether they are genuine voters” and tell them where they will be voting.

Khalid said his administration would try to meet each of the 435,000 “to know whether they are genuine voters and tell them either they are voting here or somewhere else.”

Among the “obligations” cited by Khalid is the rolling out of the RM300 million Selangorku social welfare grant. — file pic
“That is the reason why, if you call elections [in the first] six months of 2012, we are not going to participate. I have to do this, so I can write to everyone to tell them you have to go to vote, which area, constituency, where to go and vote,” he added.

The Malaysian Insider reported in March that PKR is opposed to holding simultaneous polls in Selangor if the next general election is called by May or June, as party leaders believe it would be a better tactical strategy to spend more time shoring up support.

Such a move is designed to deny Datuk Seri Najib Razak the chance to achieve a key objective that will help cement his hold on power after leading Barisan Nasional (BN) into federal polls for the first time to seek his own mandate.

The prime minister quipped on Friday night that he might meet the King on Saturday, presumably to recommend the dissolution of parliament, following a 100,000-strong turnout at the start of this weekend’s Umno’s 66th anniversary celebrations. He did not meet the King but spent time with friends drawn from social networking sites instead.

PR won 36 out of a total of 56 state seats in Selangor in the last general election which saw Khalid replaced Umno’s Dr Mohd Khir Toyo as mentri besar.

A poll analysis recently found that the highest concentration of dubious voters is found in the country’s wealthiest state which the prime minister has pledged to take back “at all costs.”

Independent political analyst Ong Kian Ming said his Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (MERAP) showed the number of voters in Selangor had increased by over 340,000, or 21.8 per cent as of 2011, to more than 1.9 million voters since Election 2008 compared to a national average of 16.3 per cent.

He singled out the marginal seat of Hulu Selangor, which has seen an increase of 17,000 voters, or a whopping 27.1 per cent, since the March 2008 general election.

The credibility of the electoral roll has been widely questioned since a Parliamentary Select Committee was set up late last year to look into electoral improvements.

The panel completed its six-month tenure and submitted its findings to Parliament in late March but the opposition and civil society groups have criticised it for lacking specific recommendations on how to clean up the voter registry.

This led electoral reform movement Bersih to hold its third rally for free and fair elections on April 28, which saw tens of thousands gather in Kuala Lumpur before being forcibly dispersed by police.

Khalid also said that “when we prepare a budget, it is for one year” and that if elections were called in the first half of the year, there would not be time to implement various projects including his flagship Selangorku grant.

He also cited the longstanding impasse over the statutory transfer of water assets to the federal government, in which the opposition has accused Putrajaya of colluding with water concessionaires in the state to short-change residents.

“The water situation also, we want to do it in our five-year mandate. We have an obligation to do so. That’s what I was elected for.”

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