After relentless public pressure, speculation and even ridicule on social media, Najib has announced the dissolution of Parliament effective today.
He made the announcement ‘live’ on national TV at 11.34am. Najib, however, slipped in announcing the date as “Today, 3 April 2012 (instead of 2013)”.
The Agong has given his consent.
Najib has also requested that state elections be held simultaneously with the federal elections. He also promised a peaceful transition of power if it led to that.
Najib said he is humbled at being given the people’s trust to lead the country – but he has never led the ruling coalition into a general election, until today. Will the people now endorse his leadership after all the vote-buying in recent months?
Deputy premier Muhyiddin was standing solemnly on Najib’s right with an ever-so-faint smile. His presence at Najib’s side is significant as he could be next in line to succeed Najib if the BN scrapes through with a razor-thin majority. After concluding his speech, Najib shook hands with Muhyiddin as the No 2 flashed a broad grin.
This prompted political activist Wong Chin Huat to share on Facebook: “A vote for BN in 2013 is a vote for Muhyiddin, not Najib, just like a vote for BN in 2008 was a vote for Najib, not Abdullah. Malaysia, are you ready for Muhyiddin Yassin as your 7th Prime Minister?”
The nation goes to the polls amidst significant concerns about the integrity of the electoral rolls and on the back of unprecedented cash and other handouts announced by the PM.
The final lap of the campaign has begun with earnest. Expect state machinery like RTM to be abused for ruling coalition campaigning. One activist said: “Najib’s address over television sounded like a campaign speech to me.”
The caretaker PM, for his part, tweeted:
“Mulai hari ini saya akan turun bertemu rakyat bagi meyakinkan mereka kenapa kami BN perlu diberi majoriti kukuh.” #PRU13
— Mohd Najib Tun Razak (@NajibRazak) April 3, 2013
The minimum campaign period is 10 days from nomination day, and the general election could be done and dusted by the time the Asean summit is held in Brunei on 24-25 April – though the actual deadline for polling day is 60 days from the dissolution of Parliament today i.e. early June.
The BN now holds 137 seats, Pakatan 75, and others including independents 10 in the 222-seat Parliament.
In an immediate reaction:
@anilnetto Time to do the right thing so that we do not regret another 5 years of abuse.
— Stanley Goh (@StanleyGoh) April 3, 2013
Certainly, for Penang, this election is not about ‘tunnel underground’ vs ‘monorail in the sky’ as some would like us to believe for reasons of their own. It is about whether there should be change in Putrajaya after 56 years of Umno-BN rule. It is about the quest for a more equitable economic system, underpinned by sustainable development, that puts the interests of the poor and the marginalised at the forefront. It is about putting an end to rampant corruption, restoring the crediblity of institutions of governance and promoting decentralisation. Those are the real issues.
But first things first: please check your voter registration details on the Election Commission database to see if there have been any changes.
Meanwhile, share with us your impressions of the ‘live’ announcement on television and what you think will be the key issues emerging in the run-up to the polls.