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Last-minute election?

  • We have no idea whether the deferment is due to lack of confidence or that the PM has some other plans in his head.

By LIM SUE GOAN
Sin Chew Daily

If the Parliament were to be dissolved after Chinese New Year, there should be signs of active election preparations by now.

But, BN leaders are still taking things in stride, attending official functions as they would normally do. This shows that the 14th general elections could be dragged to the very last minute!

PM Najib recently hinted that GE14 would be held before the July Hajj season, implying that the Parliament could be dissolved before the June 24 deadline so that voting could be held before the start of the Hajj season.

If GE14 were to be held after June 15 Hari Raya, it would be a little rushy indeed, as pilgrims would start their journeys from July 14.

As a matter of fact, choosing the most auspicious date to hold the election has come to a point that puts the ruling coalition in a straitened situation at this juncture owing to time constraint.

If BN wants to apply the redelineation of peninsular and Sabah constituencies, it will have to wait for the parliamentary approval as required by the Constitution. For instance, the Parliament passed the motion for the redelineation of Sarawak state constituencies in late 2015 so that the new constituencies could be applied in the May 2016 state assembly elections.

Dewan Rakyat will convene from March 5 to April 5 while Dewan Negara will meet from April 16 to 30. The redelineation must be passed in April before it can be submitted to the King for royal consent so that GE14 can be held before the May 16 start of Muslim fasting month.

Even if BN eventually changes its mind not to apply the redelineation, it will still need to get the report adopted by the Parliament or it will be considered unconstitutional.

Take the case of Sabah for instance, the state assembly adopted the state constitutional amendment in 2016 to increase the number of state seats from 60 to 73. If the report is not approved in the Parliament before the state elections, it will be considered unconstitutional if there are fewer than 73 state assembly seats. In the event the redelineation is rejected, the opposition could bring up the case to the court, sparking a new constitutional crisis.

An obstacle to the adoption of the redelineation has been the Selangor government's objection to the exercise. The High Court ruled on December 7 last year in favor of the EC, and on December 18, the court of appeal ruled that EC could carry out the hearing proceedings for its redelineation exercise in Selangor.

The EC has sped up its efforts to start the hearing proceedings but still cannot make it before the Chinese New year so that a special parliamentary sitting can be convened in early February to adopt the redelineation report. As a result, the parliamentary sitting will only be held in early March.

Moreover, the number of constituencies involved in the redelineation exercise in Selangor has been drastically reduced from 18 parliamentary seats to only five, effectively mitigating the impact on Pakatan Harapan.

In addition to the redelineation factor, BN must also take into consideration important official functions such as the 16th Defense Services Asia Exhibition and Conference.to be held in Kuala Lumpur from April 16 to 19. It will be inappropriate for Najib in his capacity as caretaker prime minister to officiate the event.

BN has previously missed several golden opportunities to hold the general elections, including the collapse of Pakatan Rakyat, the thumping victory of BN in Sarawak state elections and twin by-elections in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar in 2016, and when PH was struggling to pick a prime ministerial candidate.

To ensure 100% victory, BN not only needs to create three-cornered fights but also a lift from the redelineation exercise.

While planning for the general elections, BN has unfortunately overlooked personnel arrangements at federal and state levels, including naming the new MBs. To play it safe, it is very likely for BN to retain the original people, but this will not augur well for the organization's rejuvenation.

We can see that BN is working very hard now to lessen the financial burden of the people with the launch of KR1M 2.0 and the kitchen savings program in March. This reminds us of the prime minister's busy schedule on the eve of the 2013 general elections to meet the Dong Zong leadership on UEC recognition in a bid to win over the local Chinese community.

Dragging the general elections to the last minute is to secure a convincing victory, but there is also downside holding the elections after Raya, including the release of Anwar Ibrahim on June 8.

Although Anwar will not be eligible to run in the election, he can team up with Mahathir to significantly boost the morale of the opposition pact.

We have no idea whether the deferment is due to lack of confidence or that the PM has some other plans in his head.

 

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