Najib to seek parliament dissolution ahead of polls

Petaling Jaya (The Star/ANN) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is certain to ask for Parliament to be dissolved to pave the way for the 13th general election before March 21.

The speculation is that the Prime Minister will seek the consent of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah for the dissolution any time between February 20 and March 20.

Insiders note that March 21 is the day the tenure of the Johor state assembly expires after a five-year term.

"Johor state assemblymen took their oath on March 21. Therefore, the assembly term expires on the same date this year.

"We expect the Prime Minister to see the King and ask for Parliament to be dissolved way before then," said a source.

Sources say that Najib would not want to allow the Johor assembly to expire because this would be unprecedented and could lead to many legal and "morale" problems.

A Barisan Nasional official said that allowing the Johor term to expire would send the wrong message that the ruling coalition was not ready to face the voters.

The official, however, pointed out that this did not mean that the national polls must be held on March 21 or before that.

"The prime minister is expected to make several important overseas trips in February to places that are strategically important to Malaysia as well as attend regional and multi-lateral conferences where our country is a significant participant," he said.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit is scheduled for February 6-7 and Malaysian leaders have rarely missed this meeting. It is understood that Najib has scheduled another overseas trip soon after Chinese New Year.

This means that Najib is left with a 30-day period to go for the polls because he is unlikely to seek for the dissolution of Parliament too soon after Chinese New Year which falls on February 10.

It is learnt that his advisers have told him to avoid cutting short the festive joy, with the Lunar New Year being traditionally celebrated for 15 days.

Due to all these factors, according to insiders, Najib has to call for elections between February 20 and March 20, thus losing the advantage of an element of surprise.

The Parliament term does not expire until March 29 while the Negri Sembilan state assembly will complete its term on March 26.

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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