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Speculation Rife Of Year-End General Election In Malaysia
Source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/southeastasia/view/1239497/1/.html
Source Date: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Citizen Engagement
Country: Malaysia
Created: Nov 26, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: Speculation is rife in Malaysia that a general election could still be held before the end of the year.

Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said he is confident that the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition would recapture its two-thirds majority in parliament if the ballot is held now.

As Malaysia's largest political party UMNO gets ready to hold its annual congress on Wednesday, rumours are rampant that parliament may be dissolved immediately after the general assembly, paving the way for a year-end general election.

Speculation was fuelled by a comment made by Prime Minister Najib Razak that the year-end monsoon weather and flash floods were not major problems.

When asked, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad did not give much away.

"Do you think it's timely? Anytime is a good time," he said.

Dr Mahathir was speaking to the media after delivering his keynote address at the Third World Conference on Riba/Usury on Monday.

He said Malaysia would no longer be independent if foreigners were allowed to interfere in deciding who should govern the country.

Dr Mahathir said the opposition's intention of inviting foreign observers to monitor the upcoming 13th general election was to accuse the government of cheating in the elections.

"There's only one aim. If they lose, they will hold street demonstrations, accusing the government of rigging the elections. They will say the government has cheated, so the ruling party wins. That's all.

"(They) want to resort to rioting like what happened in some of the Arab countries, to topple the duly elected government," he said.

Commenting on the last general election, Dr Mahathir said: "There is no country where the ruling party could lose five states and one federal territory if it had cheated in the general election. I think the opposition would have not have won these if the ruling government had cheated."

Other party seniors voiced preference for a later date, as the second round of government handouts for lower income households will only be given out in January.

Many also believe that the window for an early election this year had closed.

Syed Hamid Albar, Supreme council member of UMNO and former home minister, said: "The most important thing is he has already assessed fully, he has gone around the country many times. So, that is why he says that he thinks anytime... this year also can, but that is more a diversion. I think it will be held next year."

Separately, Mr Najib urged Malaysians not to gamble away their future, by handing over the country to parties which could not deliver.

He outlined reasons why the ruling Barisan Nasional must be given a big mandate in the upcoming general election.

Top of the list is the clarity of the vision and direction of the BN government in developing the nation.

Mr Najib made the comments in a special interview with Malaysian media, ahead of the UMNO General Assembly.

He said as an experienced party, UMNO has always spurred numerous ideas to transform the nation towards a bright future.

He said the opposition was still unclear on the matter.

UMNO forms the backbone of the ruling coalition.

Mr Najib also said UMNO and the BN have no conflict whether in terms of policy or ideology.

He said this was not the case for the opposition parties, which often issued opinions which were at odds, even on basic and fundamental matters.

Mr Najib, who is the BN chairman and UMNO president, said the coalition has a proven track record of their achievements in managing the nation.

"We have recorded all these achievements which people say run contrary to the world economic trend. As such, we are able to ensure the capability of the government remains at a high level, with a high level of confidence," he said.

Regardless of whether elections will be held this year or next, the ruling BN coalition's tenure expires on April 28, 2013 and the prime minister must call for the general election by the middle of next year.

The UMNO general assembly will be his final platform to fire up the spirits of the party and unite UMNO delegates to face the toughest general election in history.

- CNA/de
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