KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has played down the possibility of Sabah holding a separate and early state election, brushing it off as mere speculation.
Datuk Seri Najib, who is also the Umno President, was non-committal about the issue when he was questioned by reporters on Friday (Jan 27), saying the issue of Sabah having an earlier election had not been discussed by Umno.
"There's no decision on this. I can say that the current status is that the issue is just a speculation," he told reporters after chairing the party supreme council meeting on Friday.
Asked if he was still waiting for feedback from the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition's Sabah division, Mr Najib said that Barisan would look at all aspects of the issue, although he reiterated that the issue was for now just speculation.
The Star earlier reported that plans are afoot for Sabah to go at it alone in a snap state election that may be held as early as April, in what could be a trial run for the BN coalition ahead of the general election.
The Prime Minister was said to have given the nod to the proposal but wanted a detailed evaluation of all the seats before making a final decision.
BN controls 48 - or 80 per cent - of the 60 wards in the Sabah state assembly and is led by Umno Chief Minister Musa Aman.
Sabah previously held state polls separately from the general election but has gone together with it since 2004.
On a separate matter, Mr Najib said the Umno supreme council also discussed about the party's involvement in the amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 355), which was proposed by Parti Islam SeMalaysia president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang
"I will announce it later after looking into the legal aspects of it," Mr Najib said.
He also announced that party branches were to hold their meetings between March 17 and April 30, while the dates for division meetings are from July 7 to Aug 28.
Mr Najib, however dismissed a suggestion that the meetings were scheduled as such so that the general election could be held later in the year.
"We chose the dates because that's the best available window to have the meetings and there will be Ramadan (from late May), Hari Raya (in late June) and we are hosting the Sea Games (in August).
"I know you are trying to fish for something. But sorry, that's not the reason," he quipped.
Speculation is rife that the 14th general election will be held this year.
The five-year current parliament term ends in June next year.