Monday, February 1, 2016

Sarawak polls: Announcement gives Adenan upper hand, says analyst

The decision by Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem to "announce in advance" the dates for the 11th state election has set the whole town talking.

Even tough he is no stranger to making bold decisions, Adenan, still managed to catch many by surprise when, at a function in Santubong late Friday night, he announced candidly that the state election is to be held on April 30 with April 18 set for nominations.

With the announcement, Adenan chose to move away from the norm of his contemporaries, who had preferred to keep the date a top secret until much later.

According to political scientist Assoc Prof Dr Jeniri Amir, the announcement indicated two things – one, that the 71-year-old 'supremo uno' was not only confident of winning the state election, but also of winning with a bigger majority. And secondly, that the state Barisan Nasional is already very well prepared to face the election.

This will be the first state election that Adenan leads as Chief Minister.

"What I can say is that he is confident. By choosing to reveal the proposed date a couple of months early, Adenan also intends to stop all speculation regarding the date," said the dean of the social science faculty of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).

Jeniri told Bernama that the announcement also provides a level playing field to political parties from all sides ample time to get into gear.

"This is unprecedented. I think this should be the way forward for a mature democracy," he said.

In an immediate response to the announcement, the Election Commission said only it has the power to decide on the dates for nomination and polling, after the State Assembly is dissolved.    

"However, it is worth to note the EC will decide based on the proposed date submitted by the Chief Minister," Jeniri said.

He added that the preferred date was also strategically timed with the second 'Senada Sejiwa' programme, a state government programme that aims to boost the people's support for the government.

The programme was launched in early January with the finale scheduled to be held in Mukah on March 20.

"That was the biggest indicator that the state election will be held in April. The programme is also used to gauge the people's support for the ruling government," he said.

'Senada Sejiwa' was held as a prelude to the 10th state election in April in 2011.

In the last election, Barisan Nasional won 55 out of 71 state seats contested. A total of 82 state seats will be contested this time.

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