Q&A: 'The King had to consent first'

Syed Jaymal Zahiid | Feb 13, 08 4:05pm

The long wait is over.
Caretaker premier and Barisan Nasional (BN) head Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today faced an army of journalists and ended months of speculation on the date of the 12th general election by announcing today that the Parliament has been dissolved.
With his deputy by his side, Abdullah read out a brief announcement and then responded to questions.

What made you decide on today as the day to dissolve Parliament when yesterday you denied that you would do so today?

Abdullah: I cannot simply hint at the date for dissolution of Parliament because the King had not reached a decision. I cannot be giving statements or any kind of signal. That can’t happen.
The King must be the first to know about the matter and it is he who will decide (on the date of the dissolution of Parliament before I can announce it).

What about BN candidates? Has it finalised the list of those who will and will not contest?

No, not yet.

Thirteen is said to be your favourite number (and hence speculated to be the reason for choosing today to dissolve Parliament), could you elaborate on that?

(Laughing): There is no need to elaborate on whether or not the decision is made based on my favourite number. The important thing is the King has consented to the date (to dissolve) Parliament.
Why did you decide to dissolve Parliament 15 months earlier than the expiry of your mandate?
I don’t think there’s a problem – it is in no way against the law. I felt that it was appropriate to do it today and I don’t see any problems arising from this decision.
I do believe that we (BN) will (continue) to be given the mandate by the people to serve them by injecting the nation with more development.
Do you think your party can achieve victory with results similar to the 2004 general elections?
2004..I don’t know. That year was a special record.
Will the Sarawak government be dissolved too?
No, no. Just the (parliamentary seats).
Could you elaborate on your expectations for the general elections?
We hope that we win big, InsyaAllah, at least winning two-thirds majority.
Is the BN election machinery ready?
It has been prepared and properly organised. We just need to get it moving.
Will there be new faces contesting?
Once we have finalised the list (of candidates) the people will get to see who are the new faces and who will remain.
What are your expectations of the voters?
I hope that the voters will understand the issues relevant to our country and assess these objectively and will vote accordingly once the day comes.
I also hope that there will be no trouble on nomination and polling day that could make it inconvenient for voters to exercise their rights as citizens.
Isn’t it insensitive to announce the dissolution of Parliament when the Chinese community has yet to complete its Lunar New Year celebrations?
I don’t think that dissolving Parliament today will affect the Chinese New Year celebrations; neither will it stop any activity related to the celebration.
What is the basis of your confidence that (BN) will win the elections?
(We) have fulfilled our promises to the rakyat. A lot of beneficial programmes have been initiated and (BN) will ensure that these benefit the rakyat and contribute to the development of the nation.
We hope that the rakyat will acknowledge BN’s track record which I believe has been excellent. Our services have elevated the country to a higher standard and we hope to add value to the successes we are currently enjoying. We have the experience and capabiliy to execute tasks that will see this country develop further.