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50-50 whether next general election will be held this year or next year

Media Statement          
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Monday): With Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi celebrating his fourth anniversary as the fifth Prime Minister in two days’ time, which also marks more than 3 years and 7 months after his unprecedented landslide victory in the 2004 general election, the question everyone is asking is the date for the next general election.

There are three possibilities for the 12th general election in Malaysia:

1. This year, with November 25 as the “hottest” date, with Abdullah in this scenario announcing dissolution of Parliament at the end of the UMNO General Assembly on Nov. 9;

2. Before end of next April with the “hottest date” in mid-March, 2008 before Anwar Ibrahim regains his civil liberties to stand for elective office; and

3. After April next year as there appears to be growing support in UMNO for the school of thought that the next general election should “exorcise” the Anwar factor and not allow it to haunt UMNO after the next general election on the ground that the election outcome would have been very different if Anwar had been allowed to contest – and based on the confidence that Umno is enjoying a very favorable political climate in the Malay heartland and the UMNO constituencies.

If the 12th general election is to be held by the end of this year, the current parliamentary debate on the 2008 budget would have to be sacrificed – which would be most improper and high-handed as there could be no justification for abruptly ending the current parliamentary budget meeting, with all the debates on the 2008 budget since September rendered null and void, as the country is not facing any constitutional crisis where the government is facing a sudden loss of majority support in Parliament.

But there had been such an arbitrary precedent in the 1999 general election and the question is whether Abdullah wants to emulate his predecessor in such contemptible disregard for constitutional proprieties.

Many factors, particularly political and economic such as the global economic environment, will decide the date for the next general election.

I rate it as 50-50 whether the next general election will be held this year or next year.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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