Najib to bring personal touch to Perak, Selangor this weekend
KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 16 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will visit Perak and Selangor this weekend with stops in opposition-held federal seats as speculation mounts that he could call snap polls by June.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman is on a whistle-stop tour of Beruas, Menglembu, Ipoh Barat and Tapah in Perak on Saturday, followed by a tour of Petaling Jaya, Shah Alam and Puchong in Selangor the next day.
All the areas, excluding Tapah where MIC vice president Datuk M. Saravanan is MP, are currently controlled by the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) opposition pact.
Merdeka Center director Ibrahim Suffian said the visits were likely an attempt by Najib to gauge the readiness of BN’s local machinery and public sentiment for the ruling coalition.
“I would call this a direct effort to gauge the ground prior and making some kind of assessment prior to possibly calling an election,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
He noted that this “hands-on” approach was Najib’s hallmark as a leader, which meant he preferred to see personally how people reacted to his administration, rather than relying on presentations via intermediaries.
The prime minister’s visit will also be a chance for him to view how potential BN candidates interact with the public and how voters respond to them, Ibrahim said.
He added that the Umno president will be able to “bring brand Najib to the ground” and showcase his style of leadership, which may help convince some fence sitters in those pro-opposition constituencies.
Bloomberg, citing three anonymous government officials, reported today that Najib may dissolve Parliament in May and call for a June 3 general election.
The international business wire said BN was mulling dissolving Parliament ahead of Najib’s mandate expiry in April next year.
“Prime Minister Najib Razak is scheduled to speak on March 26 to as many as 4,000 Information Ministry staff who help oversee elections, the government officials said.
“One date proposed for the contest is June 3, according to three of the officials,” it reported.
Najib sparked speculation of early polls in December last year when he said preparations had begun for the contest to extend the ruling coalition’s 55 years in power.
A survey conducted by Merdeka Center last month showed the Umno president’s approval rating had surged by 10 points to 69 per cent, on the back of handouts to all households earning below RM3,000 a month.
Najib will lead BN into polls for the first time in the next general election, with observers saying he must improve on the coalition’s dismal 2008 outing and return its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament to remain in power.
Najib, the son of Malaysia’s second prime minister, Tun Abdul Razak, replaced Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in April 2009, a year after BN suffered its worst electoral outcome ever, ceding 82 federal seats and four state governments.