EC primed for polls in January

By G Manimaran, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 – The Election Commission (EC) is ready to carry out the 13th general elections by early next year.

Deputy chairman Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omar told The Malaysian Insider in a recent interview the EC will be conducting a briefing exercise for its 222 electoral officers — one for each parliamentary seat – and is expected to complete it by end of this month.

The Malaysian Insider understands the EC started the briefings in Selangor, Perak and Kelantan last month.

In 2008, national polls were called five months after the EC’s training session for its electoral officers.

Wan Ahmad refused to say if the EC was in the final round of preparing for the general elections this time.

“We are ready to carry out our duty … carrying out preparations,” he replied.

“Many of the initial preparations have been taken care of, are complete … and much more will be done with the cooperation of other government agencies,” he said, but did not elaborate further.

Putrajaya has formed a bipartisan parliamentary select committee to review election laws following the controversial July 9 rally led by Bersih 2.0, a 62-member civil society movement demanding cleaner and more transparent polls.

But civil society groups have been pressuring the EC to take the initiative after the government refused to guarantee it will wait for the parliamentary panel’s decision before calling for polls.

According to the EC’s figures, there are 12.2 million voters at present compared to 10.9 million in Election 2008.

The ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s mandate will expire only in May 2013, but speculation is rife that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will call early polls to avoid falling victim to an anticipated public backlash due to global economic woes.