All signs point to March general election


KUCHING: The strongest hint so far that the 13th general election is near is when the state Election Commission (EC) director Datu Takun Sunggah said they would hold final briefing for the 31 returning officers (RO) in Sarawak on Feb 18 and 19.

He added that they would also hold a similar briefing for the media on Feb 21.

“On the first week of March we will organise a briefing for all our staff who will be involved in the coming general election,” Takun said here yesterday. He, however, refused to comment on the date of the general election.

The signs that the general election will be held next month include several hints from the EC as well as other factors.

Firstly, it has been reported that state Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman and Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud had told reporters recently that he would announce the list of BN candidates on Feb 25, which indicates the readiness and confidence of the BN to hold the general election anytime soon.

An AFP bureau chief for Malaysia recently told The Borneo Post that the chief minister would grant him an interview by Feb 25, indicating further readiness of the state BN for what some political analysts see as the most crucial general election for the ruling coalition.

Secondly, all four state BN component parties and nine other BN component parties throughout the country have finalised and submitted their candidates’ list to the prime minister who is also BN chairman.

Thirdly, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s scheduled visit to Miri on Chap Goh Mei on Feb 25, the same day Taib said he would announce the state BN’s candidates list add more fuel the possibility Najib would announce the date of the general election anytime soon.

Also, the current terms of the legislative assemblies and parliament in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah would expire in April.

With the 222-seat parliament due for automatic dissolution in April, the EC could call for the general election within the 60 days after the dissolution.

In the last general election which was held on March 8, 2008, the BN only won 140 seats, short of the two-thirds majority in parliament.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported that prime minister said Parliament would only be dissolved when all quarters, including the people were ready for the polls.

Asked how close the dissolution of Parliament was, he said, “Very soon, very soon, do the job first, do not worry”.

“Now I am on the ground explaining the policies and direction spearheaded by BN.

“We want the people to understand that a vote for BN is a vote for the country’s transformation agenda and a vote for peace and stability for a brighter future.

“On the whole, I am satisfied with the level of understanding among Sabah BN component parties,” Najib told reporters after attending a gathering in Papar, Sabah yesterday.

On the choice of BN candidates in the 13th general election, Najib said the BN had almost finished selecting them.

“We have to do some background and security verifications and also check on any reports from the MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) and others before we finalise the list,” he added.