April 27 or April 28 or some say Polling Day is in May

Carolyn Hong, Straits Times

MALAYSIA’S Election Commission (EC) is expected to announce next Wednesday the dates for nomination and polling, now that the last two state assemblies – Penang and Kedah – have been dissolved to pave the way for a general election.

The EC will also set the date for advance voting for security personnel who will be on duty on Polling Day, EC secretary Kamaruddin Mohamed Baria said in a statement yesterday.

The law gives the EC 60 days to hold a general election following the dissolution of Parliament, which took place on Wednesday, but analysts expect polls to be held on the last weekend of this month, or early next month at the latest.

In the last four elections, from 1995 to 2008, Nomination Day was held between nine and 11 days after Parliament was dissolved – and always on a weekend. Going by that, nomination would be around April 13 or 14 this time, but the timeframe might be too tight to allow that now.

Observers now suggest that nomination could be around April 16 or 17, with polling still possible on the widely touted April 27 or 28.

Some suggest the first weekend of next month as another possibility.

Several new electoral measures will be introduced, such as the use of indelible ink, overseas voting and advance voting.

The EC has already come under fire because its website crashed, unable to handle the flood of traffic from overseas Malaysians trying to register at the last minute to be postal voters.

Even though the candidate lists have not been finalised yet, politicians have already started campaigning around the country.

The opposition Pakatan Rakyat met yesterday to try to sort out tussles between component parties over its list.

“We hope next week, (the list will be) finalised,” said Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) secretary-general Mustafa Ali after the meeting yesterday.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said yesterday that he will defend his long-time seat of Permatang Pauh in Penang, putting an end to his earlier hints that he might move to a seat in Perak to lead the opposition charge there.

He was quoted by The Star in Penang as saying that he wanted to be with his loyal voters and supporters in the parliamentary constituency.

He had hinted earlier that he might move to Perak – much like how Democratic Action Party veteran MP Lim Kit Siang is moving to Johor to galvanise voters there.

Barisan Nasional (BN) has also swung into action, with Prime Minister Najib Razak launching several high-profile projects in Cyberjaya, which lies within the constituency of the administrative capital of Putrajaya, held by BN.

PAS vice-president Husam Musa is tipped to contest that seat.

BN will launch its manifesto today, and is expected to release its candidate list next week.