KUALA LUMPUR: The burning question of when Malaysians will go to the polls to choose their government for the 14th parliamentary term is expected to be answered today.
The Election Commission (EC) issued a statement yesterday saying it would hold a special meeting at 10am today to discuss key dates, mainly nomination and polling days, as well as the early voting day, electoral roll that will be used in the 14th General Election (GE14), as well as other preparations.
The polling date that political observers are putting their money on is Saturday, May 5, with nomination day being April 21, a Saturday.
If this is the day, those fielded as candidates will have 13 days to convince the people why they should be elected.
EC secretary Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh said a press conference would be held after the meeting, to be chaired by EC chairman Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah.
He said the commission had received the notice of dissolution of state assemblies, a prerequisite for it to decide on dates. Like in the past, critical dates would be announced after such a meeting.
Those contesting will likely also know today how long they will campaign.
Malaysians have a few hours before noon to continue speculating on these dates, as the much-awaited press conference is expected to be held then.
Many past nomination and polling days were on Saturdays.
This is partly because most of those on duty at nomination centres were civil servants, many of them teachers, and the fact that these centres are often schools.
Speculation is also rife that Malaysians will go to the polls in the middle of the week on May 9.
Political pundits said nomination day could then be April 28.
If May 9, a Wednesday, is indeed D-Day, the campaign period will be the minimum 11 days.
Having the polls on a working day is not unprecedented. The 1982 polls was held on a Thursday.
This was when former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad led Barisan Nasional.
The years 1995 and 1999 also saw Malaysians going to the polls on a Monday.
The first time Malaysia experienced this ultimate democratic process was during its first general election in 1959, and it was a Wednesday.
May 9 is viewed as the most likely date, considering that Ramadan will start on May 17.
In the run-up to the 2008 general election, the nomination and election days were set 11 days after Parliament was dissolved.
In the last polls, EC announced the two critical dates 17 days after the dissolution.
The campaign periods for GE12 and GE13 were 13 and 15 days, respectively.
BN on Friday announced the dissolution of Parliament, effective on Saturday, to pave the way for GE14.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is BN chairman, announced the coalition’s manifesto on Saturday.