Malaysia

Parliament is dissolved, finally

Najib has been on an extended tour to ramp up support for his ruling BN coalition. — File pic Najib has been on an extended tour to ramp up support for his ruling BN coalition. — File pic KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — The Dewan Rakyat has been dissolved, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced during a live television broadcast today, paving the way for the 13th general election.

The Malaysian Insider understands that a general election may be held as soon as April 20 or a week later on April 27, depending on the Election Commission’s (EC) arrangements.

The prime minister said he met with the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong this morning and received His Majesty’s consent to dissolve Parliament. It is understood that 11 state assemblies will also be dissolved today and tomorrow to facilitate the general election. The Negri Sembilan state assembly was dissolved automatically on March 27 while Sarawak had its state election in April 2011.

The last general election was on March 8, 2008 but Najib, who took office exactly four years ago today, has taken his time to dissolve Parliament.

“If I was the prime minister, I would have called for elections last year. All this waiting... one month, two months, three months... it just never stops,” Najib’s mentor and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told a news conference on March 27.

Najib is the longest-serving prime minister without a personal mandate, eclipsing his father Tun Abdul Razak Hussein who served as Malaysia’s second PM from September 22, 1970 to Election Day on August 24, 1974.

The EC will meet in the next few days to set the dates for nominations and polling that must he held within 60 days of the commission receiving the notices of dissolution from the state legislative assemblies that have yet to be dissolved.

Politicians from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) are fighting for 222 parliamentary seats and 505 state seats in Election 2013, which The Malaysian Insider understands will be held within the month.

A source had disclosed that there will be a greater number of new faces although Najib, who is also BN chairman, is expected to retain some veterans for continuity, especially those who scored well in the government annual report card he had announced on March 19.

The 59-year-old whose personal approval rating has remained above 65 per cent, has been on a whirlwind circuit around the country in the past few months to drum up support for his BN coalition in the run-up to election.

He has trumpeted his government’s transformative achievements over the past three years and doled out money to diverse demographic groups in various cash schemes to aid some five million families feeling the global economic pinch.

The move has been criticised as an attempt to sway voters for the upcoming general election, including the controversial remark by Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat who likened it to feeding livestock to garner support.

Analysts have pointed out that the initiatives under the Economic Transformation Programme and Government Transformation Programme contributed to Malaysia’s economic growth rate of 6.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year versus the same period in 2011.

Some 13.3 million voters, including 3,000-odd abroad, have registered to vote in what is set to be the country’s most-anticipated and closely-fought general elections.

BN officials privately predict that the ruling coalition could regain its two-thirds supermajority by winning as many as 160 seats although the PR pact led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is also confident of a victory.

Independent surveys show that BN could scrape through with 117 federal seats to PR’s 105.

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