The ‘referee’s whistle’ for full-time at the Negeri Sembilan state assembly has sounded, and we are now into ‘extra time’, which means the general election must be held before the end of May, if it is to be held simultaneously with the state elections. Tommy Thomas elaborates.
In our federal system of government, general elections have to be held every five years for Parliament and the 13 State Assemblies. There is no constitutional reason why the general elections for 14 Legislatures must be held at the same time.
Indeed, since Merdeka there have been instances when national and state elections were held at different times. Even in 2013, no state elections need be held in Sarawak because they had their last one in 2011 which would take them to 2016.
However, because of the centralisation of power in Putrajaya and its control over the Elections Commission, the political reality is that the Barisan federal government decides when the national polls would be held this year, and the Elections Commission, as its mouthpiece, has already announced that general elections for Parliament and all the State Assemblies (except Sarawak) will be held on the same day. For practical purposes, this means that four Pakatan governments in Kelantan, Kedah, Penang and Selangor have absolutely no say in the fixing of the date of their state elections.
It does not follow from the fact that the 12 states which have to go to polls in the coming weeks for state elections are powerless under the Constitution because they cannot decide on the date of the polls. The fixing of the date must be contrasted with the earlier or prior decision of the Menteri Besar/Chief Minister of each of the 12 states to advise his Malay Ruler or Governor (Yang diPertuan Negeri) to dissolve the State Assembly before the expiry of its five-year term. Full article on Aliran website.