May 11 or April 27 – when is polling day? Najib to buy time BUT MUHYIDDIN HAS SPOKEN!
Thursday, 04 April 2013 10:42
May 11 or April 27 – when is polling day?
Najib to buy time BUT MUHYIDDIN HAS SPOKEN!
Written by Nawawi Mohamad, Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle
Now that Parliament has finally been dissolved, Malaysians are off on their next guessing game. When is polling date for the country’s 13th General Election?
Some say it is May 11 because 11 is known to be Prime Minister Najib Razak’s favorite number. And to have the polling date a good 6 weeks from now would be in keeping with the procrastination and delaying tactics he has pursued so far. Only this time, he won’t be blamed but the Election Commission – frequently accused of bias towards his Umno-BN government – will take the rap, so to speak.
However, many of the Opposition politicians in the Pakatan Rakyat coalition believe that Najib will try to go for a “quick kill”. They are betting on April 27 as the day that Malaysians will be called upon to decide who is to be their government for the next 5 years.
“As long as Najib ends up shooting Umno-BN in the foot, that’s OK with us. Yes, we know he needs more time to prepare. The BN manifesto is not even launched yet. But strategically, the chances are still higher that balloting will be done the soonest possible and with the shortest campaigning period. Najib thinks he is catching us on the hop so he will try to attack,” a well-informed source told Malaysia Chronicle.
“But PR is as ready as it can be. We believe most Malaysians have decided to go for change. The longer Najib waits, he thinks the more chances BN has to convince voters they have changed. The problem is they haven’t and they can’t. Neither do they have any new ideas to offer. That’s why it may be better for Najib to try go for a fast ballot.”
According to Umno watchers, Najib made Wednesday’s decision to dissolve Parliament with a “very heavy heart”. It “was not what he had wanted”. However, he could no longer keep in abeyance the impatience and even outright rage shown towards him after he allowed the Negri Sembilan state assembly to dissolve naturally – the first time ever a Prime Minister and Umno president had done so.
The delay was seen by Umno elders and grassroots as a sign of weakness and according to the party’s grapevine, Najib was practically ordered to dissolve Parliament before the upcoming ASEAN summit began on April 24. If Najib had not done so today, he would have no other window of opportunity and polls could be delayed until as far away as June 2013, or 60 days after the federal Parliament dissolved on its own at the end of April.
Whether he was being meticulous or cowardly, Najib had previously declared that GE13 would be held when everything is “ready”. But BN, especially Umno where the infighting has become inflamed, is nowhere near “ready”.
It is clear that right to the end, Najib had hoped that time could help to improve the chances for his coalition. If the Umno-BN lost, it would not only signal the end of his career but he would also go down in history as the Umno president who lost the federal government to the Opposition.
Worst still, Umno might never recover from the loss and he would then be remembered as the last Umno prime minister. For a political blue-blood like him – the son of second prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein – this would be a disgrace indeed.
To try his best to buy time
To give Najib his due, he did try to do the best he could for the economy. It has grown and in fact, there has been a mini boom thanks to the populist measures he put in place to appease the people. Sad to say, the consequences are a terrific jump in national debt levels.
So while the people have spending money, they are worried because it has become too obvious the country is in trouble. National debt is just too high and bankruptcy might come sooner than the 2019 deadline set by his own minister, Idris Jala,
Najib has also announced all the handouts he could think off to keep the people ‘happy’ with the Umno-BN. The latest was a RM1,000 incentive to Petronas staff, which he announced along with a reminder to them to be grateful and vote the Umno-BN. Yet, the signs of returning to the people’s good books are still elusive.
Therefore after the initial task of dissolving Parliament, Najib will surely try his best to gain some time.
One good excuse is his much-touted “winnable” list of candidates, which he has yet to finalize. Infighting is at record-high in Umno, with all the influential power-brokers fighting tooth-and-nail for position and seats.
Not only is almost every potential Umno candidate still unsure of his or her status, the same is happening at the other BN components. A good example is how MCA president Chua Soi Lek had on Tuesday night told MCA delegates how Najib had personally assured him there was still “plenty” of time left to finalize the MCA candidates list.
Another key player who is also not that ready is the Election Commission. Accused of having been turned into another “Umno branch”, their officials must be feeling very worried. What if the Opposition wins against the odds? All the electoral fraud that they have been accused of perpetrating must be covered up so that they won’t get punished for their misdeeds. So, the EC too has to save their skins and come up with a ‘Plan B’.
Another group that needs a Plan B are the Umno-BN cronies. They can no longer swagger and thumb their noses at the PR although to be frank, most are actually quite adept at playing both sides of the field.
Those in the mainstream media also face the same predicament. Najib has to give all the affected groups time to cover their trails and they each have less than 60 days to prepare their respective Plan Bs. Even if they already have Plan B in place, they need to double check to ensure that it is air-tight.
Najib the Umno mascot & Muhyiddin the new flavor
Heavy on Najib’s mind is also the fate of the Umno-BN as he would not want to go down in history as the one who led the coalition to doom. Yes, he should have thought about this earlier and worked harder at being a good PM for all Malaysians. But it is no point crying over split milk.
To ensure that he is not blamed, Najib has to get the consensus of all the top Umno-BN brass to share the responsibility of GE13 with him.
Najib knows the possibility of failure is imminent and he also realizes that the GE-13 cannot be won by him alone. He is just the Umno’s ‘mascot’. It is the real players in Umno who must play their individual roles to help the party win.
Whatever reasons Najib can come up with, he is unlikely to succeed in convincing his peers amongst the Umno elite. Muhyiddin has already said GE13 would be held before the end of April. And with Muhyiddin the new flavor in Umno now, it looks like what Muhyiddin wants, Muhyiddin will get!