KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21 — The 13th general election is expected by the second week of April, a month after Datuk Seri Najib Razak ends his “Janji Ditepati” (Promises Fulfilled) national tour and his Barisan Nasional (BN) completes its candidates list and manifestos, sources say.
The Malaysian Insider understands the prime minister’s last stop of the tour is in his Pekan parliamentary constituency on March 16, after which he is expected to meet the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and seek a dissolution of Parliament.
“The Election Commission (EC) normally sets polling day about three weeks after Parliament is dissolved, so we expect the earliest is mid-April,” a BN source told The Malaysian Insider.
There has been speculation that Parliament will be dissolved this week and a general election will be held by the end of March, more than five years after the last general election on March 8, 2008.
But the BN source dismissed the speculation, saying the only event related to elections this week is the EC gazetting the latest electoral rolls tomorrow.
The EC will set the polling date with a minimum 10-day campaign period and is expected to do so after Parliament and all state assemblies except Sarawak are dissolved. Sarawak had its state elections in 2011.
“The PM has up to April 28 to call elections. He will take his time,” the source said, adding that BN leaders are going through the manifesto and candidates lists carefully to ensure a winning combination.
The Malaysian Insider has previously reported that the BN manifesto will be ready by the end of this month while activists from the component parties have already started their ground work.
The Star reported yesterday Najib was “keen to have everything “done and dusted” by the end of March”, referring to the manifesto, candidates list and general preparations.
The MCA-owned English daily also said Najib’s headache seems to be the choice of the proposed mentris besar for Kedah and Selangor which BN is keen to capture.
“Without the proposed MB named in advance of the elections, Najib will find it difficult to convince voters that the BN was serious about recapturing the states,” one senior aide told The Star.
The Malaysian Insider understands that the mentris besar list will be ready by end of the month, just after the Rulers Conference on February 26.
Several BN mentris besar are expected to be dropped or promoted to the federal level as they have served more than three terms in their states.
“Najib is serious about transformation, about party renewal so there is a need to reshuffle the mentris besar list just like what Dr Mahathir did in 1982,” an Umno warlord told The Malaysian Insider, referring to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s reshuffle of state leaders when seeking his first mandate as prime minister in the 1982 elections.
Among the mentris besar that could be changed are those from Johor, Malacca and Pahang apart from new faces for Kedah and Selangor.
The Star also reported that BN leaders have claimed that Najib would want to avoid the period from March 29 to April 4 for polling.
This, they say, is because Good Friday falls on March 29 and Easter on March 31 while the Chinese grave-sweeping custom of Qing Ming falls on April 4 but many Chinese families will choose their ancestral grave cleaning rituals over the weekend of April 6 and 7.
“Many Chinese travel back to their hometown to do this and polling on this weekend would prove to be unpopular,” the paper said.