KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 – Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said today the 15-day official campaign period for Election 2013 is “acceptable” even as she acknowledged that political parties have been engaging in informal tactics to win over voters long before the Election Commission (EC) formalised the dates.
Malaysians will go to polls on May 5, the election regulator announced today, starting the official countdown to when voters decide whether to keep the Barisan Nasional (BN) in government or usher in a new administration under Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
“I can’t say I’m displeased. It’s much longer than we’ve had in a long time,” the co-chair of electoral reform movement, Bersih, told The Malaysian Insider in an immediate reaction.
“Given that there has already been a lot of campaigning going on, it’s an acceptable campaign period, though ideally we wanted 21 days,” she added, referring to one of Bersih’s eight demands to the EC previously.
The EC also set April 20 for the naming of candidates, which allows political parties two whole weeks to step up their campaigning.
A total 13,268,002 Malaysians registered on the roll and are eligible to vote in the 13th general elections, touted to be a tight race between a stronger three-party opposition pact and the BN coalition for federal power.
Of that figure, 12,992,661 voters will cast their ballot on May 5 while Malaysians registered to vote by post, including those living and working abroad, will get to cast their ballots earlier on April 30, a Tuesday as embassies are usually closed on Sundays.
Ambiga was unsure how the advanced polling date would affect overseas voters and said she would reply at a later date.
The EC has listed 2,954 Malaysians abroad as absentee voters.
Security personnel and their spouses from the armed forces and police force are also eligible to vote by post. The military voters number 161,251 while policemen make up 111,136 votes.
Malaysians can check their election details online from April 15 onwards, the EC chief said, by logging on to its website at www.spr.gov.my or www.pru13.gov.my. Alternatively, they can send a text message with their identity card numbers via SMS through their telecommunication companies.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the dissolution of Parliament on April 3, four years to the date from when he took office in 2009, replacing Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as prime minister mid-term after the Penang lawmaker led Barisan Nasional (BN) to its worst performance since 1963.
The 13-party coalition lost its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament as well as five states in Election 2008.
A total of 222 parliamentary and 505 state seats will be contested. Sarawak will sit out this round of elections as the Borneo state went to the polls in 2011.