The long awaited announcement…but after a denial the day before…
|PM dissolves Parliament|
|MalaysiakiniFeb 13, 08 12:48pm|
|Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today announced the dissolution of the Parliament at a specially arranged press conference at his office in Putrajaya.He made a brief statement to the media – carried ‘live’ by RTM – stating that the Election Commission (EC) will have to fix the date for the nation’s 12th general election.
Abdullah was flanked by his deputy Najib Abdul Razak when he delivered the announcement in a room packed with journalists and photographers.
“I had an audience with the King this morning and he assented to dissolution of Parliament effective today, to pave the way for the 12th general election as provided under Article 55 of the Federal Constitution,” he said.
“With this, state legislative assemblies (except Sarawak) are also advised to dissolve.”
He also said the EC would fix the nomination and polling date. Under election law, the polls must be held within 60 days of dissolution of Parliament.
The EC has confirmed to journalists that it will meet tomorrow and will announce details at a press conference, to be held at its headquarters at 11am.
EC head Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman, asked to verify speculation that nomination day would be Feb 21 and polls held on March 2, replied: “You can speculate anything you want, the official announcement is tomorrow, you wait for the official announcment.”
Reason for caginess
Taking questions from reporters, Abdullah was asked why he had denied barely 24 hours ago that the Parliament will be dissolved today.
“I couldn’t give any indication on the election date… The Yang diPertuan Agong has to give consent first,” he said with a smile, during the brief question-and-answer session.
The premier conceded that the upcoming polls will be tough one for the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN).
“2004 was a special record,” he said, referring to the year when the last election was held.
He has already acknowledged that he does not expect BN to obtain the same majority as in 2004, as high as 91 percent of the popular vote, due to widespread current concern over the economy, crime rate and communal issues.
Nevertheless, he expressed hope that the BN will win with a sizeable majority.
“Insyallah (God willing), we can continue our efforts to develop the country… We hope we can win big with a two-thirds majority,” he noted.
Only yesterday Abdullah had dismissed speculation that he would be dissolving the Parliament today.
“No, not tomorrow,” he told reporters yesterday evening.
Election fever has picked up tremendous momentum since the turn of the year with many political observers and politicians speculating that the general election would be held in March.
Political analysts and the media had predicted that the much-awaited dissolution of the Parliament would take effect today (Feb 13) because 13 is the prime minister’s favourite number.
In 2004, the number of registered voters stood at 10,284,591.
The current electoral roll, gazetted earlier this month, lists 10,922,139 voters. Of this, 148,969 are new voters, while 51,424 have changed polling centres in keeping with updated personal particulars.
In the election held on March 21, the BN emerged a clear winner with 198 of the 219 parliamentary seats, and 453 of the 504 state seats. It took 63.9 percent of the vote.
The number of parliamentary seats have since been increased to 222, because of additional seats being created in Sarawak.
Sarawak, which had held state elections on May 20, 2006, will only see contests for parliamentary seats this time around.