Sunday 11 November 2012

Nong Chik: Elections after Chinese New Year

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — The 13th general election will be called after Chinese New Year, Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin predicted today, because the major festivals celebrated in multicultural Malaysia would be done with by then.

“We have celebrated Raya Haji, after this we will be celebrating Deepavali and Christmas. Then next year, the Chinese community will be celebrating their new year.

“But let us not forget the biggest festival for the people, which is the victory for the Barisan Nasional (BN) in the most important celebration that is after the Chinese New Year,” the Federal Territories Minister said after officiating the 1 Malaysia For Youth (1M4U) launch here this afternoon.

The Lunar New Year festival is expected to fall on February 10 next year. The Chinese community typically celebrate it for 15 days.

Hindus will celebrate Deepavali on Tuesday while Muslims will usher in Awal Muharram, the Islamic new year, on Thursday. Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25.

However, Nong Chik was quick to add that the date was only his forecast and the decision to call for elections was with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Raja Nong Chik is the first Cabinet member to give a clear indication of when the long-awaited election may take place.

His prediction echoes the forecast of Malay nationalist group Perkasa president, Datuk Ibrahim Ali, who in September signalled that national polls will be held only after the lunar new year as the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) needed time to woo Chinese voters, many of whom swung towards the opposition parties in the landmark Election 2008.

“Now, Datuk Najib’s government is really focusing on winning the Chinese community’s votes, and of course the Chinese New Year celebrations can be used with various programmes such as open house and so on, so in February.

“I hold on to my view, my prediction that elections will be held after Chinese New Year in 2013,” Ibrahim told The Malaysian Insider in an interview then.

He also said the prime minister would not be calling for the election in November as it is the exam month for students and the monsoon season.

“I hear the SPR (Election Commission) has administrative duties that are not yet settled, need more time,” Ibrahim, who is also the Independent MP for Pasir Mas, had said.

The Malaysian Insider previously reported that BN was looking at November polls, which is within 60 days of Budget 2013 being tabled, shortly after Najib pointed out the coincidences of events based on multiples of 11, his favourite number.

The BN mandate expires next April and Parliament will automatically dissolve then, paving the way for elections, unless it is called beforehand.

The law provides for a general election every five years but this is the closest to a full term the BN government has come to without giving a firm date for the polls.

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