Malaysia’s 13th general elections have been widely anticipated since last year, but so far the actual polling date is still largely a subject of speculation and rumor.
In the latest round of speculation, the general elections could be delayed until November this year, as the ruling coalition may want to wait until the annual Haj pilgrimage for Muslims to be over, while using a longer time to garner support from the youth and Chinese.
According to the Malaysian Insider, Prime Minister Najib Razak is still scrutinizing the candidates’ list to ensure that Barisan Nasional- the coalition that has formed the ruling government of Malaysia since becoming independent in 1957- has a bigger victory.
Citing officials familiar with the ruling coalition’s strategies, it reported that Najib wants to win back urban seats lost when the mainly urban Chinese voted for the Opposition in the 2008 elections.
“Najib wants support from the Chinese and the youth, so the next few months will be crucial for those efforts,” the local news website quoted a source as saying.
Earlier, there were predictions that the general elections would be held in September, but it was later ruled out after Najib announced that he would table the 2013 Budget in Parliament on September 28. Predictions of polling dates began grabbing news headlines since middle of last year, as it was widely believed that Najib would get a more secure mandate if the polls were called earlier.
There was talk that the general elections would be held in November last year, although the Barisan Nasional has until April 2012 before its mandate expires. Since then, various dates were speculated including in the month of March, May, June, July and November this year.
Since last year, Najib had given out several cash handouts that were seen to be pre-election sweeteners for voters. According to the Merdeka Center poll, Najib’s popularity was at a high of 69% before his approval rating fell to 65% after the Bersih 3.0 rally held in April. The rally in Kuala Lumpur was reported to have drawn some 200,000 suppoters calling for free and fair elections, organized by a coalition of non-governmental organizations in light of the imminence of the elections.
There were signs that the ruling coalition was on track to call the elections in July this year, following the listing of Felda Global Ventures that would give a one-off windfall profit to many Malay settlers, and materials such as flags and pamphlets were said to have already been in print for distribution.
However, with the fasting month approaching, the Muslim-majority nation is unlikely to have the polls in July, the Malaysian Insider reported, citing sources.