On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Speculation of Parliament dissolution

A day earlier, news had broken out that the Prime
Minister had called off his plans to attend the Group of 15 summit in Caracas,
Venezuela, to concentrate on the elections, but he avoided being drawn into the
question, saying he had to meet his officers first.

While there were no discussions on the election at the Cabinet meeting, the
capital was abuzz with speculation yesterday that Parliament had been

Not wanting to be caught off guard, some newspaper organisations sent reporters
to Istana Negara on hearing talk that Abdullah was heading to the palace to
seek an audience with the King to dissolve Parliament.

Readers called up newspaper offices to seek confirmation, with one claiming he
heard about the palace meeting on TV, even though there was no such report.
There were plenty of these rumours on the Internet as well.

One of Abdullah's aides, on being contacted by The Star about such talk,
replied: "What palace meeting? I just walked out of his room. He is still

But most Barisan Nasional component party leaders have started to finalise
preparations for the polls while waiting to meet the Prime Minister to get his
endorsement of the candidates.

The selection of candidates is regarded as a more onerous task as there will
always be many aspirants while some incumbents are reluctant to retire
gracefully despite having overstayed in their constituencies. Barisan sources
said that no firm decisions had been reached on the final list of candidates.

Other decisions include moving several state Barisan leaders to federal level.
Among those mentioned are Mentri Besar Datuk Ghani Othman and state exco member
Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek, both from Johor.

Then, there are the more complicated matters such as swapping of seats among
Barisan component parties and claims of overlapping following the drawing up of
new seats.

The guessing game has become more difficult because no date has been fixed for
the next Barisan supreme council meeting.

While all the nitty-gritty hasn't been settled, nevertheless, over the past one
week, Barisan leaders have been closeted at their headquarters planning their
election campaigns while, at state level, election workshops were held over the
weekend to brief workers on new election rules.

The fact that Abdullah cancelled his trip to Caracas to focus on his nationwide
tour has fired the imagination of Barisan and opposition leaders, with most
believing he will dissolve Parliament within the next few weeks.

Some predict this could happen as early as next week before Parliament begins
meeting on March 8.

Under election rules, a vote must be held within 60 days of Parliament being
dissolved. The Election Commission will then set the nomination date within 10
days and the polling date is likely to be not more than 10 days later.

Against the uncertainty of when the polls will be held, one thing remains sure
– the Prime Minister is going full steam with his visit to the states to carry
the message of his fight against corruption and instil the culture of
accountability, good governance and credibility.