Speculation is mounting that a general election is drawing closer even as Penang comes under the spotlight.
This afternoon, Najib arrived in a taxi (don’t you love how they know when to look people-friendly?) at the “Malaysia Aidilfitri-Merdeka 2011 Open House” held in Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Guar Perahu. Among the guests at the event – turnout officially reported at 25000 people (but was it much fewer?) – were Guan Eng. Entertainers David Arumugam, Ahmad Jais, Uji Rashid and Hail Amir performed.
Now, Guar Perahu lies in the vicinity of Permatang Pauh, stronghold of Anwar Ibrahim and just 2km away from Mat Sabu’s kampung.
Najib promised that the federal government would not ignore Penang: “We will continue the development in Penang as what is being carried out now such as the Penang International Airport expansion project, the construction of the Second Bridge, and the Mengkuang Dam Project which would be ready soon,” he was quoted as saying. The Penang state government is supportive of these projects.
On 29 September, Najib is due to officiate at the Han Chiang College’s 929 Golden Achievement Awards to honour the successes of the college students and vernacular press journalists. Koh Tsu Koon may be part of the delegation though he has not yet been invited. This was revealed during a press conference on Friday chaired by Han Chiang Board of Governors Tan Kok Ping. Kok Ping added that Penang Chief Minister Guan Eng had been invited, and it was not necessary to invite his predecessor. Both the PM and CM invited for a college-organised event? What gives?
The event will be held at the indoor stadium of the school. During the 2008 general election campaign, the same stadium and the large outdoor school field were the venues for huge opposition rallies. A ceramah at the school field attended by 60000 just two days before polling day has been described by some as the turning point of the campaign, which saw opposition parties crushing the BN in the state.
Umno now has 11 seats in Penang against Pakatan’s 29.
Possible tell-tale signs of impending polls:
- A source told me that principals in a town in Pahang were called for a briefing last week.
- The BN publicity and information bureau is holding 14 “premier” briefing sessions in every state to explain current issues to Umno member. The series ends on 3 October.
- Kelantan Umno has appointed the chiefs of its 14 divisions as party “election directors” and will conduct an election ‘dry run’ on 16-3o September.
- Najib has asked for telcos the review their decision to pass on government service tax to their prepaid consumers
One or two people have suggested that the general election could be held in November/December. Some have even mentioned 11 November, 5 December and 5 January as possible dates.
But on 29 July, Najib announced that the Umno general assembly will be held from 1-3 December, the dates reportedly decided by an Umno supreme council meeting. So how?
Moreover, the general election is likely to be held before the Umno party elections. (Najib has not yet been elected as Umno president.) It is unlikely that the Umno party elections during this year’s general assembly as Najib had announced on 1 December 2010 that the party polls had been for 18 months. If we go by this, then Umno polls may be held in the second quarter of 2012. A general election in November/December/January 2011 would give Umno leaders sufficient time to campaign for the Umno polls.
Keep an eye on:
- what happens in the Anwar court case.
- the fate of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, now seen as more of a liability for the BN.
- the progress of the Scorpene investigations in France.
- what happens on 1 December, when TNB is due to announce its next electricity tariff review, six months after the 7 per cent hike on 1 June.
- what happens to the dates of the Umno general assembly scheduled for 1-3 December.
- the state of the economy. Economic growth has slowed to 4 per cent in the second quarter and the crude palm oil price has fallen by some 25 per cent since the beginning of the year.
What have you heard? What is your prediction? And what are the issues at stake?