Thursday, September 6, 2012

BN eyes polls in November, after Budget debate

BN eyes polls in November, after Budget debate By Jahabar Sadiq EditorSeptember 07, 2012

 KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 ― Barisan Nasional (BN) is likely to call the general election at the end of November, a week after the last of the 28,000 Muslim pilgrims return from the Haj and the Budget 2013 is passed by the Dewan Rakyat, sources say. The Malaysian Insider understands that Education Ministry top officials have been asked this past week to check the availability of schools, mainly secondary schools, during that period when the Form Five and Six public examinations are usually held. File photo of voters lining up to cast their ballots in the Sarawak state elections last year.

The speculation now is that the general election will be called at the end of November.“The government is looking at the end of November, just after the last flight bringing back the Haj pilgrims on November 19,” a BN strategist told The Malaysian Insider.

 The next Parliament session starts September 24 and is scheduled to end on November 27, with the highlight being Budget 2013 to be tabled by Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on September 28. BN’s mandate expires next April 28, five years after Election 2008 where the ruling coalition under Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi suffered historic losses of its two-thirds parliamentary majority and four more states. Abdullah stepped down in favour of Najib in April 2009. This is Najib’s first shot at getting his own mandate.

 The Malaysian Insider had earlier reported that plans to dissolve Parliament last month have been shelved after two Sabah lawmakers quit the coalition and expressed support for arch-rivals Pakatan Rakyat (PR). There have also been reports of elections to be called earlier and the middle of the year but none have panned out. Najib hinted last week that a general election is near while former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has openly said November would be a good month for elections. Both are also bullish about BN’s prospects in the coming polls.

 “The Budget debate normally takes about four weeks to be passed by the Dewan Rakyat before it goes to the Dewan Negara. So Najib can call snap polls after that,” another source said, confirming that November has been cited as the most probable date for a general election.

 “The government is also thinking of calling elections on a weekday but that depends on the Election Commission (EC),” the source added. He added a BN official has already put a 60-day timeline for the next elections after Budget Day although others are in favour of finishing the current mandate before calling polls. “Not many are in favour of November but influential people like Dr Mahathir have a bigger say,” the source said. Widespread allegations of tampered electoral rolls have forced the EC to defend itself and order a review of the rolls.

The EC is also looking into implementing a 10-day campaign period following proposed reforms by a Cabinet committee after widespread protests calling for free and fair elections. 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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