There has to be a by-election in Kuala Trengganu by January 28. Actually it won’t be any later than Jan 22 since Chinese New Year is on Jan 26.
And when over, we will know if BN gets to retain its 58 eight seat majority, or have it whittle to 56.
If the latter is the case, there would be another round of speculations of whether there could be a government change before the Umno elections in March – which constitutes grabbing the premiership from Finance Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is a debutante waiting in the backstage for her introduction.
I won’t get into the candidates and other speculations, I just want to look at likely polling dates.
The Election Commission gave a two week campaign in Permatang Pauh, and that should be the same for Kuala Terengganu.
They have to rush it if they want a December date. It might not be to the liking of Najib to rush the date – and yes I am assuming and saying that the election date is more in Najib’s hand than the EC’s real preference.
A loss will be a major setback and they only won it in March by 648 votes, with an independent taking in 685 votes. Transfer her votes to the losing PAS candidate Mat Sabu, with all things same then you will have a PAS MP.
BN would like to consider well this election, and probably would prefer a January election date.
A long December
This will be a long December either way. Have the poll in the final month of 2008 will bring much political life to the country – but would be unwelcome for BN since a slumping economy means more votes lost by BN than PAS since March in Kuala Trengganu.
However no election in December, won’t stop the escalation of discussion about the by-election.
But let’s look at possible dates. Dec 20 will be the likeliest, but that would bring nomination day to Dec 6 which is a week away.
This pundit believes a December election will hand the seat on a silver platter to the PAS dudes – plus the candidate they have is a former MP and party personality.
This is the likelier time, and if there is nomination day in the first week of January, then election is likelier Jan 17.
The year start optimism might lead to people thinking that the BN can be trusted with government, and that the economy is not quite falling apart.
There is also the Chinese New Year looming, and in a period like this there is more conservatism and a need for stability, so BN might like a date close to it. The Chinese voters in the Kuala Trengganu zone will be crucial.
Expect PAS to drop their overzealousness as shown in the PKNS head and alcohol ban fiascos. They will actually let the more moderate and multicultural dimensions of the party to stay on the surface – for the next two months at least.
Interesting weeks ahead.