M'sian election will take place in next 180 days, says DPM Zahid

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's general election will take place in the next 180 days, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said yesterday, and he indicated that it would be held next year.

"The election will take place no later than 180 days from now," he said, meaning it would take place by mid-May.

"Those who say that the election will take place later than that are out of touch with reality," he said at the opening of the annual conference of Parti Gerakan, a component party of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

The six-month period mentioned by Mr Zahid is not really a surprise as BN's five-year term will end on June 24, with Parliament automatically dissolved then.

This means Prime Minister Najib Razak, as head of the ruling coalition, must call for the polls before that date.

Mr Zahid said: "We must make all the necessary efforts. I believe it will be called only next year and, if we work hard, we can empower our election machinery to deliver big wins throughout the country."

His comments put paid to a lingering suspicion that Mr Najib might call for a rare monsoon election.

This has happened only once before in 1999, when then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad called for national polls on Nov 29.

To be sure, calling for an election during the monsoon period is risky, as several states are typically flooded during the rainy season, especially the east coast states. The rainy season usually tapers off around the end of January.

Pundits say a popular election window next year is after mid-February and before the middle of May because Chinese New Year falls on Feb 16 and the Muslim fasting month begins on May 16.

Malaysia's biggest English language newspaper, The Star, on Saturday reported that the 14th general election is likely to be held between April and mid-May. - THE STRAITS TIMES