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Polling date, weather are hot topics these days

PETALING JAYA: All eyes are on the nomination and polling dates, with many convinced that the 15th General Election (GE15) will be wrapped up by mid-November.

Also, a major discussion point is voter turnout.

There is a strong chance that polling will take place by mid-November as the monsoon is expected next month, say observers.

Political think-tank Ilham Centre executive director Hisomuddin Bakar cited the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s decree for the general election to be held as soon as possible, considering the bad weather due to the northeast monsoon season.

He said the best date would be the end of the first week of November.Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah had expressed his hope that GE15 would be held as soon as possible, taking into account the bad weather expected in mid-November when the monsoon season starts.

The Election Commission will meet on Oct 20 to decide on the date for GE15 along with the Bugaya by-election. Some of the unverified polling dates being bandied around are Nov 5, Nov 12 and even Nov 19.

Meanwhile, there was high interest in The Star Online’s interactive online poll inviting readers to indicate when polling day will be.

As at 5pm yesterday, 37.6% of the 2,940 respondents (or about 1,113 votes) narrowed the time frame to between Oct 31 and Nov 6, while 31.36% (930 votes) expected polling day to fall between Nov 7 and 13.

Political analysts cite bad weather conditions for a predicted lower voter turnout for the election, which is set to see over 21 million Malaysians on the electoral roll.

Senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs Dr Oh Ei Sun said the year-end rainy season would likely deter voters from going to cast their votes.

“This will disproportionately favour Umno, as it has far superior resources and mobilisation mechanisms to bring out its voters who would dominate the polls.

“The Opposition is in no way close to being able to bring out their already reluctant supporters to vote,” he said, but pointed out that staunch supporters would go out to vote despite the weather.

But Ilham’s Hisomuddin said it was still too early to predict the voter turnout in view of the monsoon.

“In my opinion, Umno’s push to have Parliament dissolved this year is in the hope that the trend and voting patterns are the same as in Johor and Melaka,” he said.

“This means indicators such as voters who are fed up with the current political development and the monsoon season will contribute to a lower percentage (of voter turnout).

“Disunity among the Opposition will also give Barisan Nasional an advantage,” he said.

Citing the Johor state polls, he said Umno and Barisan were likely to control Malay majority areas where they had staunch supporters compared to other parties.

Barisan clinched 40 out of 56 seats in the Johor polls while in Melaka, it won 21 out of 28 seats.

Hisomuddin said Barisan’s machinery was effective in ensuring that their staunch voters were able to vote on polling day.

He added that the political coalitions of Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional would be hoping for a high voter turnout of over 80%.The two coalitions must use the remaining time to mobilise their machinery, ride on issues and create a strong wave that will prompt voters to go out and vote, he said.

He said conditions on the ground were still cold and campaigns had yet to begin, with no big issues being played out to attract voters.

Universiti Sains Malaysia senior lecturer Dr Azmil Mohd Tayeb said the monsoon would definitely reduce voter turnout, which might benefit Barisan.

“Parties need to fire up their bases and the voting public at large by offering concrete solutions to everyday problems faced by people, namely reigning in inflation and introducing various subsidies and social welfare programmes to help those in need,” he said.

Source:The Star

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