KLANG • Malaysia's ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) is running a nationwide dry run this month for the upcoming general election.
After weeks of closed-door meetings involving national leaders, BN has ordered the dry run to ensure the party's machinery is ready for the election which, a Melaka insider said, is set for around the third week of April.
Tan Sri Annuar Musa, information chief of Umno, the dominant party in BN, said the coalition had tested the efficiency of the entire system over the past two weeks.
"We want to ensure that all systems are in order. We are testing logistics, polling agents and all related components.
"We need to identify weaknesses in the system and rectify them accordingly," he said at an event in Kelantan.
In Selangor, the dry run on March 17 will test BN's strengths, as well as the viability of available machinery and manpower, to make sure everything runs smoothly and as planned on the actual day.
"Basically, it will be a practice run of the operational procedures on polling day, as well as to test the polling day machinery," Selangor Umno deputy chief Mat Nadzari said. He said the exercise would also outline the responsibilities of those on duty on polling day and what needs to be done to ensure there are no hiccups on the actual day.
In Kota Kinabalu, a Sabah Barisan Nasional official said the dry run would involve all 25 parliamentary constituencies.
"Everyone in each polling district is expected to run through their voters and report back to their heads in the respective constituency. All information will be fed back to the state leadership and then to the headquarters," he said.
In George Town, Penang Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow said the state would also conduct a dry run, but did not disclose further details.
In Johor, Pulai MP Nur Jazlan Mohamed said they conducted a dry run for his constituency about a month ago. "This is the most prepared BN has ever been," he added.
The Melaka state BN is expected to hold its dry run on March 11, from 8am to 11am.
"We expect voting day to be held by the third week of April," said an insider from the coalition's main election war room. Melaka Malaysian Chinese Association chairman Lim Ban Hong said the party's machinery was ready to face the election any time.
Meanwhile the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan saw another non-politician join its ranks on Sunday when Ms Maria Chin Abdullah, chairman of electoral reform movement Bersih 2.0, said she would contest as an independent candidate under the coalition in the upcoming general election.
Social activists are questioning the independence and impartiality of Bersih 2.0 in the wake of Ms Chin's decision to enter politics.
Her announcement comes after political analyst Wan Saiful Wan Jan officially joined Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia on March 1.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK