On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

The guessing game continues

With March now out of the picture, May and June have suddenly become the talking point. By July, the fasting month would have started and it is most unlikely that polls would be held at that time.

The Dewan Rakyat will begin its 20-day meeting from March 12 and this will be followed by a second meeting from June 11 to June 28 (12 days). The final meeting of 34 days, which includes presentation of the Budget, will be from Sept 24 to Nov 27.

While Barisan Nasional component parties and the Opposition are already at near peak in their preparations, the fact remains that Najib does not really have to go for early polls.

He has all the time in the world. There’s nothing really to stop him from going for a full term, which is April 2013, as some powerful figures in Umno have advocated.

While the political transformations are taking place, the economic changes need to be seen and felt. Announcements alone are insufficient at a time when voters have become cynical towards the establishment.

The High Court decision to acquit Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of the sodomy charge, with the judge citing lack of corroborative evidence in the two-year-long trial, has stunned many from both sides of the political divide. The decision surprised even Anwar himself and Barisan leaders as well.

Najib has said the verdict shows that as chief executive of the country, “I don’t interfere in the judiciary.”

But perception is everything and it would take a bit of time for Malaysians to regain their faith in the judiciary whose image has taken much knocking. To be blunt, its image is badly dented.

For the prosecution, the case was another fiasco. Malaysians are now used to reading about the poor chain of evidence handling, which has seen the prosecution continuously losing many high-profile cases. One may even ask why bother to charge Anwar in the first place if the case, in particular the evidence, is weak.

Our public institutions have come under much scrutiny and rightly so. Still, we must not forget the high standard of integrity that has been kept by the Auditor-General’s Office.

Every Auditor-General who has come to office has kept the faith of Malaysians, pointing out the flaws, excesses and wastefulness of government agencies and ministries. While it’s not corruption in many cases, there were glaring examples of careless spending of taxpayers’ money, something Malaysians would describe as “spending like it’s their grandfather’s money”.

The controversial National Feedlot Corporation issue began with the findings in the A-G’s report and it has snowballed since then.

The police must also be lauded for their sharp improvement in handling public display of dissent. Certainly, the force has learned from the lessons of the Bersih 2.0 rally.

The public will not be convinced when the police say they fired water cannons into Tung Shin Hospital because they were not aware it was a hospital.

The calm and controlled manner in which the police handled several recent demonstrations deserves credit. They are also more prepared now, recording their own videos and releasing information via social media.

In some instances, they have been faster than even the media, as in the case of the Anwar court verdict.

Political reforms can certainly be seen now but Malaysians still need to feel the economic transformation.

KTM commuters who travel between Kuala Lumpur and Negri Sembilan in horrendous conditions want to see extra coaches soon and folks in the Klang Valley want to see the tunneling works for the MRT project to begin.

If anyone tells you he knows the date of the elections, he’s bluffing. Najib has told no one, not even the highest level officials, so carry on guessing.