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by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Some see the outcome of the Ijok by-election, which Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim may win, as an important barometer of whether there will be early general elections. DAP sees that win or lose, BN have no choice but to call for early polls. If BN loses, then general elections must be called as early as possible to prevent PKR from gathering momentum from such a victory. Even if BN wins, BN would find it difficult to resist calls for early polls to take advantage of the “feel good factor” generated by such a victory and get over with the general elections.
DAP will be amending the party constitution at a Special Congress held on 10 am Sunday 6 May 2007 in the Federal Hotel Kuala Lumpur to postpone party elections due at the end of this year to enable the party to focus on preparations for the coming general elections. Party elections at both the national and state levels are due at the end of this year and the proposed constitutional amendments give powers to the Central Executive Committee (CEC) to postpone party elections for a period of 12 months. Notices for the Special Congress has been issued to all qualified delegates in accordance with the party constitution.
Both the Elections Commission (EC) and BN leaders have given strong indications of general elections after the lavish 50th Merdeka celebrations on August 31. In a bid to add 4.9 million new voters, EC Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid gave a time frame of voters to register by August this year if they wish to be on time to vote in the next general elections.
BN leaders like UMNO Youth President Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein Onn has even stated a few days ago that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi wanted the party’s election machinery to get ready for a general election, which can be held any time. Apart from these hints, there have already been orders by BN wakil rakyats for the printing of T-shirts and posters.
Presently the DAP party constitution does not give powers to the CEC to postpone any national or state party elections for even a week. Should general elections be called during the party national congress or state ordinary conventions, then the party has to proceed and can not act illegally by deferring party polls. The CEC feels that this would hamper our preparations for the general elections and at two meetings on 20th March and 17 April, the CEC decided to hold a Special Congress to amend the party constitution with powers to postpone party polls.
The CEC will seek the endorsement of the delegates in the Special Congress to amend Clause VIII(1) of the DAP Party Constitution by adding the following clause at the end of the sentence:-
Prime Minister expected to come down personally to campaign in Ijok by-election
With so much at stake, BN must achieve a victory at all costs to put it in pole position when early polls are held. For this reason DAP expects the Prime Minister to personally go down to campaign during the last day in Ijok. BN and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has learned a bitter lesson from the Machap by-election where they failed miserably to make DAP’s candidate lose its deposit. Without the Prime Minister coming personally down to campaign, BN not only failed to increase its majority but had its majority reduced.
With all indications pointing to early polls, DAP must fully use our limited resources and gear up for election preparations. Apart from amending the party constitution, the Special Congress would also focus on discussing the election strategy, key electoral issues, planning and preparation expected of party leaders as well as how to fulfill the aspirations and increasing demands of the electorate. Other issues expected to be discussed include the direction of the party in the coming general elections and the extent of co-operation between DAP and PKR’s Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
There must be a sense of urgency in the party at all levels from the national, state and branch to start mobilizing election machinery and operating fully. Just like studying for examinations, success in elections is determined not in the final days of any examination or election campaign but in the many months of careful preparation beforehand.
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP