By LIM SUE GOAN
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
There are not many date options left. The 13th general election is likely to fall in November this year, January or March next year.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak recently hinted that the general election might be fall in November, as 11 is his favourite number. Therefore, people started to speculate, avoided the Deepavali and Awal Muharram on Nov 13 and 15, the polling day could fall on Nov 3, 11 or 25.
However, it could also be a false alarm, as there is still no sign showing that the election will be held in November. If the Prime Minister wants to distribute candies on September 28 when the Budget is tabled, it will take time to achieve the expected effects and they would not make it by November.
Najib is very likely to announce another round of the RM500 BR1M aid distribution or other people-friendly measures. The aid can be issued the earliest in December and the timing will be nice if the election is held in early next year.
Feedback from the public shows positive response to the BR1M aid, even better than fuel subsidies, and it consumed only RM2.6 billion. Therefore, it is believed that the BN will not miss the opportunity to create a feel-good mood.
Moreover, the factional problem of Umno has not yet been solved. Some district leaders actually ignore Najib's plan of fielding only those with the highest chance of winning, and insist to compete. The election would not come so soon before the problem is solved.
Therefore, Umno leaders are very likely to authorise the party president the full authority to decide on election candidates at the annual party congress, to eliminate different voices in the party. Also, Umno is expected to motivate party members and implement the party's policy at the congress.
Therefore, the possibility to have the election in November is not high. Since they have been waiting for so long, why should they take the risk now? Therefore, it is believed that the election should be held either in January or March next year. Since February 10 is the Chinese New Year, February is not suitable for campaigning. Of course, Najib would not allow the Parliament to be automatically dissolved after April 28 to avoid affecting the morale of BN's component party members.
In any case, even if the election falls in November, Najib is now Malaysia’s longest serving Prime Minister without his own electoral mandate, the previous record was four and a half year. It shows that the BN is really facing the most difficult political situation this time.
The BN has done all it wants to fight for swing votes and its policies can no longer be changed. The people have also already made their decisions. Further delay will make the situation more chaotic, and more and more conflicts will be triggered. It is not something in favour of the BN, too.
Incidents triggered by the Janji Demokrasi rally on August 30, including the move of stepping on a picture of Najib, would not affect the Pakatan Rakyat as the society has been seriously divided. The BN, instead, should be vigilant against unexpected events.
For example, after two Sabah lawmakers have withdrawn from the BN and decided to support the Pakatan Rakyat, the BN should not give them more time to stir up Bumiputeras' sentiments. If the world economy does not deteriorate and the global food prices surge, it might still affect domestic prices in early next year.
Therefore, based on the above analysis, January will be the best timing and the situation would turn dangerous if they fail to make good use of the opportunity.