Friday June 8, 2012
On the edge of our seats
By WONG SAI WAN
The whole country is getting fidgety as Malaysians await the 13th general election.
IT’S an extended silly season. Everyone is ultra sensitive and every event or statement is examined with a fine toothcomb for any underlying political message.
Hardly a day goes by that a politician does not let fly a missile at one opponent or another. From cows, condos to sex tapes, no one and nothing is spared.
One would have thought that after months of this, politicians would have run out of ammunition, and from the quality of the rockets being shot out, they are close to scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Everyone is so tense that even the recent reduction in RON 97 by 10 sen is seen as an indication that the polls is near.
By my vast experience of having covered the past five general elections, the polls should have already been here, gone and dusted. But this time round, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak seems intent on dragging out the silly season for as long as he can.
His opponents have joined him by declaring that Selangor and Penang would not hold their polls together with the national elections. Selangor MB Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim had declared that his government would definitely not follow if it is held this month.
A June general election does not seem likely now (for some unexplainable reasons, the country has never held a general election in the month of June). So does this mean that Selangor will now follow suit if it is held next month?
No way, says Khalid’s boss Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who wants Selangor to go the full distance (sometime in April next year). The games of the silly season continue.
One senior Barisan Nasional official enquired with a party worker recently how things were going and was shocked at the reply he got.
“Boss, we are all very tired. We have been on war footing since October and we do not know how much more we can take,” said the party worker.
Some of the candidates-designate from both sides, who have been campaigning quietly since January, are quietly complaining that they are running out of funds and at the same time cannot do anything about raising money from supporters.
“What am I to tell my supporters? No party will announce its candidates so early for fear they may be bought over or of sabotage,” said one aspiring candidate.
This is why some Umno stalwarts are calling on the leadership to start naming the potential candidates so that they can “be properly introduced” to the branches and avoid any sabotage.
This, I suspect, will also allow these people to make use of the official party machinery which means it will be less taxing on his or her personal resources which can then be reserved for the actual polling and campaign period.
This 13th GE will be a watershed election for Malaysia and every seat will see tough fights. “The mother of all battles” was how one senior journalist described the coming polls.
Unfortunately, like all things that are anticipated with such great expectations, I fear it will fall short of everyone’s outlook. GE 13 can’t help but disappoint because we are expecting so much from it.
Prior to last week, when it became obvious that the polls would not be in June or July, everyone seemed resigned to the election being held in September.
But then came Najib’s announcement that Budget 2013 would be tabled on Sept 28.
One could almost hear the groans of frustration going up all over the place. The so-called experts are now even suggesting November or January as the new dates.
One Cabinet Minister even pointed out that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad held the 10th general elections in exactly the same manner.
Dr Mahathir tabled the budget in October 1999, allowed the Lower House to debate the budget, but before it would be passed, he went to see the King and had Parliament dissolved. He took his Budget as his manifesto for the polls.
This senior Cabinet member said outright that Najib would do exactly the same because it proved to be a masterstroke by Dr Mahathir to defeat his foes then.
This conversation with the minister took place a month ago, long before Najib announced his Budget date.
So does this mean that the polls will be in October?
If statistics are anything to go by, it is unlikely to be held then because only the 1990 GE was held in the month of October (Oct 21 to be exact).
The following are the exact dates of the past 12 elections.
1st GE - Aug 19, 1959;
2nd GE - April 25, 1964;
3rd GE - May 10, 1969
4th GE - Aug 24 and Sept 14 1974;
5th GE - July 8, 1978;
6th GE - April 22, 1982;
7th GE - Aug 3, 1986;
8th GE - Oct 21, 1990;
9th GE - April 25, 1995;
10th GE - Nov 29, 1999;
11th GE - March 21, 2004; and
12th GE - March 8, 2008
Hopefully, someone out there can find a pattern from this list of dates and then correctly predict the polling date that Najib is holding so close to his chest and does not look likely to reveal any time soon.
Those claiming to know the man’s plans said we should examine Najib’s speech during last year’s Malaysia Day on Sept 16.
“He made many promises there. Once he has fulfilled all those promises, I am sure he will call for the elections,” said one of them.
The polls cannot come fast enough for most of us because we want to get back to some real work.
> Executive editor Wong Sai Wan has been on election footing since 2010 and will be glad when it comes.