The 12th General Election:Election dry runs almost done (7)
Posted January 10, 2008on:
Thursday January 10, 2008
The Star Online
Election dry runs almost done
KUALA LUMPUR: All signs point to the next general election being just a matter of weeks away, as political parties and leaders seem to have stepped up a gear in their preparations.
The favourite period being touted by political analysts is a couple of weeks after Chinese New Year, which falls on Feb 7. They point out that polling will likely be conducted during the school holidays (March 7 to 16).
Asked about this speculation, a senior minister said all Barisan Nasional component parties had completed their “dry runs for Terengganu, Kelantan, Kedah, Selangor and Johor”.
“The elections will be held soon enough – latest by the first week of March. Everybody is ready. If we wait any longer, fatigue will set in,” he added.
The dry runs are held to gauge the preparedness of the BN election machinery. The other states are expected to complete theirs by this weekend.
Umno information chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib said the party’s election preparation was now on overdrive.
“We have always been in gear, now we have gone into overdrive. I have been around the country briefing our election workers on various issues expected to be raised by the opposition. I am now into my second round of briefings.
“We have not been told when the general election will be held, but we are prepared even if it is called tomorrow,” Muhammad said.
This will be the country’s 12th general election.
In the previous general election in 2004, Parliament was dissolved on March 4 and polling was on March 21.
A Barisan source said that indications of an election surfaced as early as last month when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi completed his first round of state visits.
Abdullah and his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak are expected to step up their next round of state visits as they hit the campaign trail again.
Analysts add that another indication of the looming elections is that Abdullah not planning any overseas trip for February and March.
Sources say the January itineraries of Abdullah and Najib comprise a number of pre-election events:
> Jan 12: Najib will be in Terengganu to attend a closed-door meeting with Umno state leaders.
> Jan 16-17: Najib to meet the party machinery during his two-day visit to Johor.
> Jan 19: Abdullah to open the Pesta Ponggal in Kuala Lumpur.
> Jan 20: Abdullah to meet the Indian community from Kuala Lumpur.
> Jan 26: Najib to open the Federal Territory Barisan Nasional election operations centre.
> Jan 29: Abdullah to launch the Sabah development corridor.
The two leaders are also expected to visit PAS-held Kelantan at the end of this month.
Even the opposition parties are preparing in earnest.
Yesterday, DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat announced that they had agreed to their seat allocations for Penang.