KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — The Najib administration is looking at a snap election in September before Malaysia Day if it goes through with a plan to dissolve parliament next month, sources and analysts say.
The Malaysian Insider understands that Prime Minister Datuk
Seri Najib Razak’s aides and Barisan Nasional (BN) officials have
briefed a number of people on the plan to hold elections between Hari
Raya Aidifitri which falls on August 19 and the proposed Budget Day of
September 28. Malaysia Day is on September 16.
“Snap polls are likely before September 16 so that will give enough
time to table the Budget 2013 on September 28 if BN retains Putrajaya,” a
source told The Malaysian Insider.
But he pointed out that Malaysia’s Budget Day has traditionally been
on the last Friday of October and has been pushed back in recent years
due to the Aidilfitri festivities, the celebration at the end of the
Ramadan fasting month for Muslims. More than 60 per cent of Malaysians
are Muslims and it is the country’s official religion.
Another source said the September date will also allow Muslims to go
for their Haj pilgrimage which falls on October 26 and has been a bone
of contention among several political parties, who say it will deprive
the quota of 20,000 Malaysian Muslims their right to vote.
“We heard snap polls are in September and factoring this into our analyses,” a Singapore-based stock market analyst told The Malaysian Insider, noting that the Election Commission (EC) had briefed representatives of all political parties last week.
Najib has been cagey about the election date although he expressed
confidence in winning all state governments and the federal government.
His BN controls Putrajaya and nine states while the opposition Pakatan
Rakyat (PR) rules Kedah, Kelantan, Penang and Selangor. PR lost Perak in
February 2009 when three lawmakers turned independent, which was enough
for BN to capture the state.
In his Pekan constituency yesterday, Najib said BN had yet to finalise its candidates for the upcoming general election.
The Star quoted Najib as saying, “The list will be finalised when the
time comes. Everything else is just speculation.” He said this when
asked about a report saying he had rejected half of the names submitted
for the list.
The report stated the candidates were omitted for reasons including
being under scrutiny from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission
(MACC) and police, as well as being party stalwarts dropped to make way
for younger candidates.
“We are still flipping through the names, checking and checking again,” the Umno president told reporters.
Despite his comments, BN sources say they have already taken
containers of coalition paraphernalia such as T-shirts and posters from
warehouses in a few ports for distribution to all state chapters and
divisions. It is learnt that some of the material was imported from
China and Indonesia.
BN strategists are using Najib as the cornerstone of their campaign
with banners, billboards and buntings featuring his face being strung
along major roads and buildings in the capital city and other parts of
the country. The KTMB commuter train has also had his face emblazoned on
its carriages while party and coalition websites have his photos
“Najib is popular. The last Merdeka Center survey has him with a 65
per cent popularity rating and he is reaching out to all demographics,” a
BN strategist told The Malaysian Insider.
When BN called elections in 2008, then prime minister Tun Abdullah
Badawi’s popularity rating was at 71 per cent but he lost the
coalition’s customary two-thirds parliamentary majority and four states.
Najib, who is seeking his first mandate at the polls, has been
touring the country in his Jelajah Janji Ditepati (Promises Fulfilled
Tour) over the past few months and is due to visit Kelantan and
Terengganu soon for the campaign. Ironically or coincidentally, Janji
Ditepati (Promises Fulfilled) is also the theme for this year’s National
Day on August 31.
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had also predicted snap
polls after Aidilfitri, saying BN was likely to take that opportunity as
most voters would not be able to return to their state constituencies
mere weeks after the Muslim festivities. The annual Aidilfitri
celebrations are usually when Malaysians who work in urban areas return
to their hometowns or villages to celebrate the occasion with their
“We expect BN will use the opportunity to hold elections after the
Aidilfitri holidays. When this happens, voters will think thoroughly to
return to their hometowns to vote just after returning from their
holidays,” he told the Islamist party organ Harakahdaily in Rabat,
Nearly 13 million voters are eligible to cast their ballots if a
general election is called involving all 222 federal seats and 505 seats
in 12 states. However, the four PR-ruled states have yet to say if they
will hold elections the same day as the general election as their
mandates only expire next April. Sarawak has already had its state
election last year.
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