Kuala Lumpur – With the new year, the guessing game as to when the 14th General Election would be held has also begun.
Speculations are rife that GE 14 could be held as early as May, since the Puasa Month will begin around 25th of May. However, going by past trends, with such a shaky ground, Barisan Nasional component parties will need at least 3 to 6 months to prepare themselves as the seat swapping negotiations are not finalised yet.
Furthermore, the election boundary re-delineation exercise proposed by Malaysian Election Commission has not been accepted yet and it is doubtful whether UMNO will opt for general election without finalising implementation of the new electoral re-delineation proposals.
The amended electoral delineation proposals are expected to be tabled in Parliament during the March 2017 sitting, as the proposals have to be adopted in Parliament.
To go with new electoral boundaries or with existing one?
So, if the BN leadership wants to hold general election by the end of May 2017 then, it should also decide whether to go for it with or without the proposed electoral boundaries. Political observers believe BN would only go for GE-14 once the issues related to electoral boundary delineation are concluded.
Puasa begins around May 25 and therefore June and July 2017 are unlikely months for GE-14 as during these months UMNO and other BN component parties use the occasion to meet Malay voters in their respective constituencies in the name of Hari Raya buka-puasa dinners. After Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations get-together dinners are usually held by government departments and in Malay areas which become another campaign ground for BN parties.
SEA Games – a key indicator?
The SEA (South East Asian) games are scheduled to be held from August 19 to August 31. This makes August as unsuitable month for general election as arrangements for the games would be disrupted.
However, the games are expected to be a big-bang, creating the feel-good factor which the BN leadership usually looks for, before calling a general election. Since the closing ceremony will be held on the 31st of August, which is also the Merdeka day, the dual celebrations would create a festivity mood, preparing the voters with a positive mind-set.
Malaysia day falls on 16th September which is another celebration that brings together Sabahans and Sarawakians with their Peninsular Malaysian counterparts.
So, September looks like the most suitable month should the BN leadership decides to hold general election this year.
Hari Raya Haji falls on 1st September and the haj pilgrims would be back by the first week of September.
The first phase of MRT is also expected to be fully operational by September, and this project is expected to be another vote garnering show-case for BN government.
These are additional indicators which justify that the general election could be called in September 2017.
October and November are periods when the public exams are held in schools nationwide. So a general election during this period is unlikely.
October is also the month when Budget 2018 would be tabled in Parliament. Given the gloomy economic conditions and worsening ringgit, the government of the day will not have many goodies to offer to impress the voters and to create the feel good factor.
December 2017 is usually avoided as the possible month for general election due to fear of heavy rainfalls and floods in east-coast states of Peninsular Malaysia.
In conclusion, if the BN leadership decides to hold general election in 2017, the most likely month would be September, failing which GE-14 would be shifted to 2018, with BN completing its full 5 year term in office.