By Wong Chun Wa
The Star/Asia News Network
Monday, Apr 30, 2012
MALAYSIA - Forget about June; the more likely time for the polls will be in the first week of September.
If Bersih 3.0 and Occupy Dataran were meant to peak before the polls, then they have been premature.
On the government side, while Prime Minister Najib Razak has made several nationwide trips, his series of visits, which emphasises his government transformation plans on services for the people, has only just started.
Both sides have also not finalised their list of candidates despite their bravado in making declarations that they are ready for elections.
With a tough fight ahead, being winnable candidates is not good enough; they have to be trustworthy, too. Both sides do not want defections after the general election. This is especially so for Pakatan Rakyat, whose elected representatives defected after the polls.
For the Barisan Nasional, it would not want to deal with a situation similar to that where opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim attempted to woo Barisan MPs to cross over.
So far, only the DAP's Karpal Singh has consistently argued for a law to stop defections. The rest from both sides have refused to be drawn into such a commitment, preferring perhaps to keep the options open.
Then there is the matter of seat swopping. Both sides are still at the negotiation table and, in the case of Pakatan Rakyat, the unhappy components have gone to the media to voice their frustrations.
Datuk Seri Najib's diary is packed with commitments, including overseas visits. The media has already been informed of his trips to Britain and the United States in mid-May. It does not look like a red herring as planning for his meetings has been completed and he would also take a short holiday with his family after his official duties.
By the time he returns, it would be the last week of May, and calling for polls in June will be unlikely from a strategic-planning point of view.
Over the next few days, the Prime Minister will also be announcing details of the minimum-wage plan and there is also talk that the government will unravel the nine-month Malaysia Airlines-Air Asia alliance as early as Wednesday.
The alliance has been a source of discontent for the 22,000-strong staff of the national flag carrier. Their number is big, and given the fact that they are believed to be supporters of the ruling coalition, and their family members who are voters would be too, this issue is significant.
By July, it will already be the fasting month, which means there won't be any election campaign. After this, the whole month of August will be taken up by Hari Raya celebrations. That means the first week of September will be the last window period.
The general election cannot be in late September as the haj season would have begun, ending only in October.
Then there is the Parliament meeting from Sept 24 to Nov 27, where the budget needs to be tabled. Once it is tabled, it has to be approved by the Dewan Negara, which means the session will drag on until next year.