Malaysian General Election 13 – Parliment will dissolve on Monday

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By Stan Lee, Nawawi Mohamad

Speculation is swirling that Prime Minister Najib Razak may spring a surprise and dissolve Parliament these few days in a bid to salvage his coalition’s chances of retaining control of the federal government.

“Some of the Umno-BN MPs are saying he will dissolve next Monday. It is his prerogative, so it’s hard to tell if this time, he will really go for broke. But we are all tired of waiting,” PKR MP for Batu Tian Chua said.

Indeed, the guessing game over when Malaysia’s 13th general election will be held has gone beyond mere tradition or a pleasant national pastime. Not only have business investors and the man the street complained about the prolonged political uncertainty, Najib’s indecisiveness has given the Opposition opportunity to fire deadly salvos at his corrupt administration, with the latest involving a minister in his own department – Nazri Aziz.

Nazri’s son Nedim was accused of receiving an expensive US-made SUV from a Sabah tycoon who had previously been accused of carrying out money-laundering activities for Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman. Yet Nazri has insisted there was nothing corrupt about this and that the scandal would not affect the BN’s chances in GE13.

“Why should it be a problem? It is between him (Nedim) and Michael (Chia). Ask him (Chia) if it is a problem. Why (would this) harm BN? Why BN?” Nazri shot back when surrounded by reporters a day ago.

Situation: BAD

But not all in the BN coalition, especially his own Umno party, feels as assured as Nazri. Circulating around town is an SMS in Malay that reads ‘Salam, bila agknya pru13..kedaan xmihak pd bn inga skrg‘ or ‘when is the GE-13 since the situation is not on BN’s side until now’.

Indeed, the situation now is bad for Umno without even a gentle breeze of good feeling in the air. Scandals mostly related to big-time corruption continue to pockmark and drag down Najib’s flailing government.

None of the scandals have been resolved. Instead, so much details have been exposed by whistle blowers that Umno-BN leaders no longer bother to even try and cover up the leaks.

Indeed, Nazri’s playboy son’s prolonged ‘borrowing’ of a luxury car from a tycoon of dubious background epitomizes the disconnect between the wealthy and ruthless Umno ruling elite and the struggling working classes who are already upset at runaway property, food and transport prices.

Even the more savvy politicians in the Umno-BN have urged Najib to drop a new traffic summonses system. The AES or Automatic Enforcement System is a pet project involving Najib’s own close aide Mustapha Omar, and despite public outcry that it was just another ‘highway robbery’ aimed not to punish traffic offenders but to make money at the people’s expense, Najib has refused to cancel its implementation.

Catch-22 of his own making

To political watchers, these still red-hot scandals along with the swelling public distaste for MCA and its president Chua Soi Lek make it more likely that Najib will use the opportunity to delay GE13 to next year. MCA is the B second largest party after BN. The Chinese-based party is expected to lose most if not all of the 15 seats in Parliament it now holds.

They reiterated that the PM was in a Catch-22 situation, whereby if he dissolved Parliament now, he risked a poor electoral result and whereas if he delayed, the risks could worsen. The BN’s 5-year mandate to govern ends in March 2013 and Parliament will automatically dissolve on April 29 even if Najib refuses to do anything.

“To me, the GE13 date is not visible as yet. Perhaps it’s a very difficult decision for Najib to make. BN is in the process of trying to get the BR1M2 paid in November/December but most likely it can only be done in January. I don’t think Najib will dare to dissolve Parliament before BR1M2. So earliest possibility is December 2012 but safer for him Jan 2012. And most likely, it would be after Chinese New Year in March. No one would be surprised if he went for full term,” PAS MP for Kuala Selangor Dzulkefly Ahmad said.

Worst option

Some Umno insiders believe Najib had no choice left but to delay holding nationwide polls for as long as possible.

They defended his refusal to call for snap polls last year and earlier this year. According to them, even with the help of the Election Commission and all government machinery, BN leaders still had to depend on the feel-good atmosphere due to huge swing in favor and sentiment towards the Pakatan Rakyat led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

“No point talking about what Najib should have done. For whatever reasons, he didn’t and we have no choice but to look forwards not backwards anymore for the GE13 timing. People will be lulled from Christmas onwards, and continue either in festive mood or year-end and new year holidays mood. Come January 2013, Najib will let the parents have some money when sending their children to school, like really having money to spend provided by the RM200 vouchers,” an Umno watcher told Malaysia Chronicle.

“For Muslims, the mood will be reinvigorated with the Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday o Jan 24. Then the Chinese will have their turn to feel good by 11th and 12th February after celebrating the Lunar New Year. If Najib misses this moment in March 2013, then he will have lost every opportunity he has. Parliament will be automatically dissolved and this may be the worst option as it will signal to the people how desperate and out of ideas he and BN are. For sure, they will show BN the door, wouldn’t you?” -hornbillunleashed