By Shannon Teoh
KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 — The Najib administration may dissolve Parliament in May for a general election that could likely be held on June 3, Bloomberg reported today, citing three unnamed government officials.
According to the international business wire, the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government is discussing dissolving Parliament for a general election in May or June, ahead of its mandate expiring in April next year.
“Prime Minister (Datuk Seri) Najib Razak (picture) is scheduled to speak on March 26 to as many as 4,000 Information Ministry staff who help oversee elections, the government officials said. One date proposed for the contest is June 3, according to three of the officials,” it reported.
There is a one-week school break from June 3 which could have led to speculation of a likely general election as school buildings are usually used as polling stations across the country.
Najib had already sparked speculation of an early vote when he said in December that preparations had begun for the contest to extend the ruling coalition’s 55 years in power.
A survey conducted by independent pollsters Merdeka Center last month showed the Umno president’s approval rating had surged by 10 percentage points to 69 per cent on the back of RM500 cash handouts to all households earning below RM3,000 a month.
“All signs seem to be pointing towards an election at the end of May or early June,” Bloomberg quoted Ong Kian Ming, a political analyst at UCSI University in Kuala Lumpur, as saying.
“It’s the best timing for Najib. If he does wait longer there may be other scandals that emerge and the goodwill that he’s enjoying from the budget handouts given out earlier this year may be lost,” Ong added.
Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil announced last week she will step down as women, family and community development minister when her senatorship ends next month after being dogged for over four months by allegations she and her family abused a RM250 million federal loan earmarked for a cattle-farming scheme.
It is understood that Najib and Shahrizat will address some 7,000 Wanita Umno members at the party headquarters here next Friday on the reasons behind her resignation from the Cabinet.
BN will hope that the scandal will draw to a close after the Wanita Umno chief’s husband, who is chairman of the National Feedlot Corporation tasked with running the project, was also charged with criminal breach of trust on Monday.
Najib will lead BN into polls for the first time, with observers saying he must improve on the coalition’s last outing and only a return to a two-thirds majority of Parliament can guarantee he remains in power.
The son of former Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak succeeded Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in April 2009, just a year after BN suffered its worst electoral outcome ever, ceding 82 federal seats and four state governments.
Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was acquitted in January of sodomy charges he claims were politically motivated, has pledged to “clamour for reform” in a bid to unseat Najib after the verdict.