Five issues holding up likely June polls, say sources
By Jahabar Sadiq
March 23, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — Barisan Nasional (BN) strategists have listed five issues that need to be solved to garner greater support for the ruling coalition in a general election that several government officials say could be held as early as June.
The Malaysian Insider understands the five issues are the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) scandal, the civil service pay review, the Malaysia Airlines-AirAsia share swap, the Lynas rare earths refinery and the initial public offering for FELDA business unit FELDA Global Ventures Holding Bhd.
It is learnt that Datuk Seri Jamaluddin Jarjis, who is the BN manifesto committee chairman, briefed editors and correspondents in the New Straits Times Press group of papers on Tuesday over the issues.
“JJ gave a briefing and listed the issues but he was coy about the date,” a source told The Malaysian Insider, calling the former minister and past ambassador to the United States by his nickname.
Another source from the coalition confirmed the briefing and said Jamaluddin had also mentioned June as the earliest date for a general election.
“Elected BN representatives and the wanna-bes are already hitting the ground to prepare for a June election but we need to resolve these issues,” the BN source said.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak(picture) said yesterday he was still deciding when to call the next general election, adding that it will only happen when public confidence towards his administration is at its highest level.
“Anything is possible but elections are based on a lot of factors but we must be able to convince people.
“The right time (is when) there is a high level of confidence in the government… we are still gauging situations (to) see what kind of support (we have),” he told Chinese-language radio station 988FM in an interview yesterday morning.
Asked whether polls would be called by May or June, Najib said it depended on his administration’s ability to “overcome outstanding issues.” He did not however elaborate on what they were.
“(A) strong feel-good factor that’s the time where we should press the button,” said the PM.
The Malaysian Insider had reported on March 10 that Najib had directed all BN leaders to finalise their candidates list but said he will have the last word on the choices from the 13-member ruling coalition to ensure a victory.
Each party in the 13-member BN normally hands a list that is approved by the chairman but Najib has been stressing on putting up “winnable candidates” or rather, winning candidates who can retain and regain seats in the 222-seat Parliament and the states now under Pakatan Rakyat (PR) rule — Kedah, Kelantan, Penang and Selangor.
In a boost to his confidence, a recent poll showed that Najib’s approval rating has surged by 10 percentage points to 69 per cent on the back of an improving economy and the cash handout of RM500 to low-income earners under the Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) scheme.
Pollsters Merdeka Center found that the prime minister’s support was highest among households earning less than RM1,500 a month at 78 per cent, with four-fifths of Indians and 74 per cent of Malays also giving Najib the thumbs up.
But less than half of the 1,022 voters polled in Peninsular Malaysia last month said “they were happy with the government.”
The Umno president’s popularity had been on a steady decline since hitting a peak of 72 per cent in May 2010, dropping to 69 per cent in November the same year before sliding to 59 per cent in August 2011.
Malaysia’s economy had recovered from a slight contraction in 2009 to record a 7.2 per cent expansion in 2010 before growth slowed again last year to 5.1 per cent. Bank Negara forecast growth to range between 4.5 and 5 per cent this year.