Fuziah Salleh:General election likely in March 2011
By Teoh El Sen
PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Rakyat leaders in charge of preparations for the 13th general election are speculating that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will disolve Parliament and call for polls in March or after July 2011.
Whatever the case, all three coalition members – PKR, PAS and DAP – are confident of their readiness to meet the challenges of snap polls.
PKR central elections director Fuziah Salleh believes that the general election will most likely be in March because it would be three years since the historic 2008 polls.
“If he (Najib) calls for election before the third year, then according to the law, first-term MPs, even BN (Barisan Nasional) ones, would not be able to get their pensions. I don’t think Najib would risk that,” said Fuziah, the Kuantan MP, adding that PKR “was confident” that it will be ready by March.
Her colleague in PAS, however, thinks that Najib will not call for national elections before July.
PAS elections director Abdul Halim Abdul Rahman opines that the general election would most likely be held between September and November 2011.
“It may even be called in 2012. The reason it won’t be before July is that the government would want to go through with the re-delineation of constituencies first, which would probably take place in March and the whole process would only be done by July,” said Abdul Halim, the Pengkalan Chepa MP.
Echoing Abdul Halim’s view, DAP national election preparation committee chairman Tan Kok Wai said the party was “ever ready” for the polls.
“As for the DAP machinery, we’ve been through 10 elections since 1969 and we have veteran members who know what to do.
“When the time comes, it won’t be much of a hurdle,” said the Cheras MP.
He said DAP’s immediate work now was to help register the 4.2 million unregistered voters. There are 16.2 million eligible voters.
“We will be going into this last lap in the next three months,” he added.
Meanwhile, Fuziah said she would soon be distributing “election kits” to members and begin leadership training programmes.
She said the election kits comprised a step-by-step manual for elections while the leadership training programme focused on campaign management.
“We already have four to five leadership trainings per month which focus on how to manage a campaign. To me, a good campaign manager is as good as a candidate,” she said.
Fuziah added that the party was undertaking an ongoing process of picking and vetting candidates who have the right leadership qualities such as having a service-oriented mindset and good strategic skills.
These new candidates would be compared to incumbent MPs and assemblymen whose performances are being tracked by a Key Performance Indicator committee.
Abdul Halim, on the other hand, said PAS would be only half (50%) prepared if polls were called in March.
“If the general election is in July, we will be 90% ready but if it happens in September, we will be fully prepared.
“We have asked each ballot box unit (UPU) to collect funds since early this year and we’ve been constantly conducting training that teaches members the electoral rules, strategies and the technicalities of an election,” he said.
Abdul Halim added that the strategy of wooing non-Muslim supporters through the PAS Supporters’ Congress was already in place and a few of these members were expected to be chosen as candidates.
Meanwhile, Barisan Nasional (BN) has reportedly begun holding high-level meetings.
Today, the BN’s management committee will meet while its supreme council meeting is scheduled for tomorrow.
On Nov 28, BN will hold its national convention where topmost on the agenda is the 13th general election.
While Najib, who is also Umno president, has called on party members to gear up for the polls, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has reportedly said that the general election was “just a few months away”.
But BN secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor quickly quelled media excitement when he said that a “few months” could mean anything from “one month to two or 30 months”.
Regardless of the number of months, Najib will also have to take into consideration Sarawak, which must hold its state polls by June 2011.
In Kuching, rumours are rife that Najib will convince Chief Minister Taib Mahmud to hold simultaneous elections.
There are indications that Taib is preparing to call for state election.
The latest has been the move to publish a White Paper to control “undesirable” activities by the opposition, media and non-governmental organisations which the state government believes will “jeopardise unity and security in Sarawak”.
Kuching-based political analyst, Stanley Bye Kadam Kia, speculates that Taib will call for polls in early April .
The senior lecturer with Universiti Malaysia Sarawak believes that Taib would want to hold the state polls in early April for several reasons.
In his column in Sarawak Update, Kadam Kia noted that in the “last state election, polling was timed such that the BN could celebrate its election victory on the same day the CM celebrated his 69th birthday”.
The first week of April, he noted, would be a “good time” to call for state election.
“April is a month of rejuvenation. The weather in Sarawak at this time of the year is favourable for campaigning and soliciting for votes, and, above all, it is also a time of celebration for the BN people.
“On March 26, 2011, the BN or Sarawak will celebrate Taib’s 30th anniversary as the CM of Sarawak. I foresee that there will be a lot of cake-cutting ceremonies to mark the occasion. The BN could use the ‘cake-cutting ceremony’ as a new technique for canvassing votes,” he wrote.