Parliament is dissolved today, despite concerns that this during the CNY celebration might be offensive to the Chinese and also despite the PM’s denial yesterday.
See Malaysiakini. Reuters has broke it before it was official (below).
Given that the laws require 4 days between the writ of election and nomination, and 7 days between nomination and polling, EC which has scheduled a meeting tomorrow will probably announce the nomination day sometime next week (likely next Saturday) and the polling day a week later (likely the following Sunday).
It may also do the expected by issuing the election writ this week and having the nomination early next week, hence having a slightly longer campaign period to quench criticism while the period between dissolution and election remain at slightly longer than two weeks.
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 13 (Reuters) – Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has received consent from the country’s king to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections, a source close to the prime minister said on Wednesday.
Separately, an aide to the premier said Abdullah would hold a news conference later on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. local time (0430 GMT), though he declined to give further details.
A senior editor at television station TV3 said the channel was on standby to air an important announcement from the premier.
The source said the Election Commission would decide on the poll date in the coming days, but it was likely to be held within the first 10 days of March.
Elections are not due until May 16, 2009, but analysts say they expect Abdullah to call for polls before the trade-dependent economy begins to slow and inflation picks up steam.
A March election would also cut out de-facto opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is barred from standing for public office until April because of his past criminal conviction, though Abdullah denies this is an influence on poll timing.
“The PM actually wanted to dissolve parliament next week but the Agong (king) is leaving overseas this evening for a private holiday, so last night he (the prime minister) changed his mind,” the source said.
“He went to see the king at 9 a.m. (0100 GMT) today and the king gave his consent for the dissolution.”
In power since 2003, Abdullah is trying to shore up his own popularity, which has dented by public anger over rising prices, street crime and an influx of cheap foreign labour.
Abdullah, who took over from Mahathir Mohamad, led his ruling Barisan Nasional coalition to a record victory in 2004 elections on a pledge to clean up government.
But he said recently the coalition, which has ruled since independence in 1957, was unlikely to repeat its 2004 performance amid growing unease among ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.
(Reporting by Mark Bendeich, Jalil Hamid and Jahabar Sadiq; Editing by Bill Tarrant)