On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Elections won’t be in June

On the government side, while the Prime Minister has made several nationwide trips, his series of visits, which emphasises his government transformation plans on services for the people, has only just started.

Both sides have also not finalised their list of candidates despite their bravado in making declarations that they are ready for elections.

With a tough fight ahead, being winnable candidates is not good enough; they have to be trustworthy too. Both sides do not want defections after the general election.

This is especially so for Pakatan Rakyat whose elected representatives defected after the polls.

For the Barisan Nasional, it would not want to deal with a situation similar to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s attempt to woo Barisan MPs to cross over.

So far, only the DAP’s Karpal Singh has consistently argued for a law to stop defections. The rest from both sides have refused to be drawn into such a commitment, preferring perhaps to keep the options open.

Then there is the matter of seat swapping. Both sides are still at the negotiation table and, in the case of Pakatan Rakyat, the unhappy components have gone to the media to voice their frustrations.

In Sabah, the local opposition want the Pakatan Rakyat to stay out but the DAP, especially, is adamant in contesting. It will lead to a crowded fight if no compromises are made within the opposition.

In the Barisan, the seat-swapping issue is still being sorted out and has not even gone to the supreme council level yet.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s diary is packed with commitments, including overseas visits. The media has already been informed of his trips to the United Kingdom and United States in mid-May.

It does not look like a red herring as planning for his meetings has been completed and he would also take a short holiday with his family after his official duties, which include meeting members of the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council in New York.

The council was set up to enable the country to make a quantum leap from a middle-income status to a high-income one.

By the time Najib returns, it would be the last week of May, and calling for polls in June will be unlikely from a strategic planning point of view.

The push for rural votes – the core of Umno’s support – will continue in June, especially after the windfall for Felda settlers has been declared from the listing of Felda Global Ventures Holdings (FGVH) Bhd, either in end May or early June.

The windfall will be in two forms – cash and equity – but the excitement would be the amount of the quantum. But word is that the rewards would be good.

Over the next few days, Najib will also be announcing details of the minimum wage plan and there is also talk that the Government will unravel the nine-month Malaysia Airlines-Air Asia alliance as early as Wednesday.

The alliance has been a source of discontent for the 22,000-strong staff of the national flag carrier. Their number is big, and given the fact that they are believed to be supporters of the ruling coalition, and their family members who are voters would be too, this issue is significant.

Over in Sabah and Sarawak, there will be two major celebrations – the Kaamatan festival of the Kadazandusun community on May 30 and 31 and Gawai for the Sarawakian Dayaks on June 1 and 2.

As these festivals are the most important events on the calendars of the two main communities in these states, no one would be expected to campaign for elections during this period.

Many Sabahans and Sarawakians, especially those working in the peninsula, are also expected to take a long break at this time.

Those who talk about a June 9 general election obviously have no idea of what’s happening in Sabah and Sarawak.

By July, it will already be the fasting month, which means there won’t be any election campaign. After this, the whole month of August will be taken up by the Hari Raya celebrations.

That means the first week of September will be the last window period.

The general election cannot be in late September as the haj season would have begun, ending only in October.

Then there is the Parliament meeting from Sept 24 to Nov 27, where the Budget needs to be tabled.

Once it is tabled, it has to be approved by the Dewan Negara, which means the session will drag on until next year.

If you are planning a holiday or a major corporate event in May or June, go ahead, your plans won’t be disrupted.

In fact, Malaysia is hosting Asia’s largest oil and gas event from June 5 to 7, bringing top people from this industry to Kuala Lumpur.

If you have planned for the Olympics in London, enjoy the Games, which starts on July 26 and ends on Aug 12.

But don’t be away too long because the drumbeats of the general election would be very loud by then.