Monday 3 September 2012

‘Pakatan ready for polls… but will it be fair?’

Pakatan is confident of taking over Putrajaya if polls are held in November, but expresses doubt that the short notice is enough to clean up the 'dirty election roll'.

PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Rakyat is ready for a possible November general election, opposition leaders said today, but added that they were not prepared to face a “dirty election roll” which could hamper their win.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had emphasised heavily on his favourite number 11 in a speech in Sandakan – an indication that he may call for a general election as early as November, The Star reported.

“Six times 11 equals 66, five times 11 equals 55 and 2 times 11 equals 22. The 11 factor appears in all, it is unique and good,” Najib was quoted as saying, in reference to Umno’s age, Malaysia’s 55th National Day and Sabah Umno’s age.

PAS vice-president Mahfuz Omar said that Pakatan had been long prepared to take on Barisan Nasional in the general election, but it was unlikely that the Election Commission (EC) would be able to clean the electoral roll by November.

“We have been prepared since the beginning. The only thing we are not prepared for is the dirty electoral roll. We are not ready for that,” he told FMT when asked to comment on the November polls speculation.

“We just want clean and fair management of the elections. Is the EC ready? There are many issues they must handle such as phantom voters, immigrants given citizenship, etc, ” he said.

He was referring to the influx of immigrants in Sabah who are said to be given blue identity MyKad in return for a vote for the ruling government.

Although the government had recently announced it would set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to look into the issue, it has yet to officially appoint the commissioners.

“Is the EC capable of solving all this by November?” Mahfuz said, his voice tinged with scepticism.
FMT has attempted to contact the EC for comments, but was unable to obtain a response.

Multiple hints

Meanwhile, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar also confirmed that Pakatan was prepared to take on BN at whatever time, including November, as they were forced to rely on the prime minister to decide on the dates.

“As the opposition in Malaysia, subservient to PM [with regard to] general election dates, we have little choice except to be very ready,” the Lembah Pantai MP said in an e-mail to FMT.

Najib has consistently delayed calls for an election that must be held before BN’s mandate expires in April next year. The November polls “hint” is merely one among many that have been spotted by political analysts and various sources throughout this year.

“We’ve been taking the multiple hints seriously to date. Looking to the escalation of violence and the prime minister’s penchant for using malicious allegations this Merdeka, it seems that a November election might be a real possibility,” Nurul said.

She was referring to Najib’s accusation that Pakatan was masterminding a plan to change the national flag after several individuals were spotted waving flags with altered designs during last Thursday’s Independence Day countdown in Dataran Merdeka.

But despite Najib’s finger-pointing, Nurul said she was very confident in the wisdom of the rakyat “predicated upon free and fair elections, devoid of political violence and scare-mongering tactics”.

Pakatan’s shadow cabinet

When asked whether Pakatan would be revealing its shadow cabinet soon in response to the speculation of looming polls, Nurul was coy.

“We will make sure the work of our shadow committees is presented to the public,” she said.

“Lest we forget, Pakatan’s commitment is towards a lean cabinet – and our prime minister will not simultaneously hold other portfolios – such as finance and women’s ministry – which have hit a snag in recent times,” she said, in an apparent jab towards Najib.

Najib, aside from being the prime minister as well as the finance minister, had taken over the position of Women, Family and Community Minister in April this year after its former minister Shahrizat Jalil had stepped down following the National Feedlot Corporation scandal.

Nurul also said that the public can be prepared for a host of other policy pronouncements from Pakatan prior to the election, adding that Pakatan was currently working towards a joint manifesto.

Why is Najib afraid?’

Meanwhile, Mahfuz poured scorn on Najib’s evasiveness in announcing a set date for the polls, pointing out that Pakatan had been prepared “since dawn” to take on BN.

“Najib should be brave enough to announce when the election will be held. If he doesn’t want to announce the exact date, then at least disclose the month and year so that society can prepare for it.

“Why must he be afraid? Why must he play the speculation game? Is he trying to test the market?” Mahfuz asked sarcastically.

“If he has no bravery, then he must learn.”

He said that the opposition pact had grown weary of the waiting game which Najb was apparently keen to play, and that PAS no longer wished to rely on mere speculation.

“We just want Najib to announce when Parliament will be dissolved. There have been so many speculations, yet none of them have amounted to anything,” said Mahfuz.

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