February 13, 2008 13:06 PM
PUTRAJAYA, Feb 13 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today announced the dissolution of Parliament to pave the way for the 12th general election.
The announcement was made at a media conference at his office here and telecast live on RTM1 at noon.
The prime minister also advised all the state governments, except Sarawak, to dissolve their state assemblies to enable the state elections to be held simultaneously.
He said he had an audience with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin this morning and had received his consent to dissolve the 11th Parliament.
The dissolution of this Parliament was made 15 months before the expiry of its five-year term on May 16, 2009.
The Election Commission (EC) is expected to meet soon to fix the dates for nominations and polling.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak, who was present when the announcement was made, expressed the hope that the general election would run smoothly.
He said the Barisan Nasional (BN) hoped to retain the two-thirds majority that it received in the 11th general election in 2004.
He said the BN machinery was ready for the general election.
“The list of candidates has been fixed,” he said, adding that the BN would field new faces as well as the old guard and would announce the names in a day or two.
Political observers had forecast that the polls would be held early next month, with nominations expected in the last week of February, based on the EC practice of fixing only 10 days for campaigning in several past elections.
Under Article 55(4) of the Federal Constitution, a general election must be held within 60 days of the dissolution of Parliament. However, the EC practice after 1969 has been to hold the election within 16 to 20 days of the dissolution.
The 11th general election was held on March 21, 2004, 17 days after the dissolution of Parliament.
A total of 222 parliamentary seats will be contested this time, three more than in the last election due to the new seats in Sarawak following the electoral delineation in 2006. At the state level, 505 seats will be contested.
Before today’s dissolution, the BN held 199 seats in the Dewan Rakyat and the opposition 20, with the DAP holding 12, PAS six and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and an independent, one each.
Abdullah said the government dissolved parliament 15 months before the current mandate ended as it wanted a new mandate to continue its development programmes.
He hoped that voters would show strong support for the BN in the general election for their own benefit.
“I hope the voters understand the issues in the country, evaluate them objectively and give their votes to BN,” he said.
Abdullah was confident that BN would win big based on the government’s performance and its ability to fulfil its promises to the people.
Furthermore, he said, the programmes implemented had benefited the people.
Abdullah said BN’s record was good as it had managed to continuously raise the living standard of the people.
“The BN government has also managed to improve on its successes, besides having the experience to effectively administer the country.”
On his denial yesterday that parliament would be dissolved today, the prime minister said: “I could not give any clue to the date as I needed to get the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong first before I could make the announcement.”
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong gave his consent to the dissolution of parliament this morning.
Abdullah said: “It is not wrong to dissolve parliament well before the current mandate ends on May 16, 2009.”
The prime minister also said that the dissolution of parliament would not disrupt the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Asked on the significance of Feb 13 to dissolve parliament as No. 13 is also Abdullah’s favourite number, he said: “Don’t need to comment on this.”
On BN’s candidates for the general election, Abdullah who is also BN chairman, said he had not received the complete list.
According to the Election Commission (EC), the country has 10.9 million voters including about 700,000 new voters who can vote in the upcoming elections.
For the first time, the EC will introduce transparent ballot boxes and staining of voters’ thumb with indelible ink in the voting process.
Parliament Dissolved Today For 12th General Election
February 13, 2008 13:06 PM