Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Election Date Guessing Game

While waiting for our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib to announce the very much anticipated date for the dissolution of parliament, suddenly his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard sprang a surprise not only to her fellow Australians but also the world by announcing that the general election will be held in September, an unusually lenghty notice of eight months. There have been various comments, both pros and cons, on her decision, but the Australians will surely have more than ample time to plan their affairs, a luxury not available to us in Malaysia.

Compare this with the US. Its presidential election must be held on the first Tuesday of November in the leap year, while the inauguration of the President elected in that November election will take place on 20 January of the following year. This year it fell on a Sunday but the business went on as usual as if it had fallen on a weekday. During the oath-taking, the newly elected President took the oath while holding the bible. What happens to “render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s”. Also held on the same day as the presidential election are elections for the entire seats in the lower house (House of Representatives) and for one third of the seats in the upper house (Senate). The US Senate really lives up to its status as the upper house of the Legislature as it is vested with enormous powers to act as check and balances against Executive actions. A good case in point is the current confirmation hearing of Cabinet nominees proposed by President Obama. While John Kerry was easily confirmed (perhaps due to his "good" records) as Secretary of State, Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defence, Chuck Hagel is still under severe examination by a Senate Committee. A point worth mentioning: Hagel, a Republican is being nominated by a Democrat President.  

Back to the local scene. I think PM Najib might as well let parliament run its full term in April. There is no difference between dissolving now and letting it to expire in April, a mere two months. There is no need to move the Agong to sign the dissolution order, record it in the gazette and attend to other administrative procedures. It could save stationery costs as well!! The various state legislative assemblies should follow suit.

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