KUALA LUMPUR - Speculation on when a general election would be held has been brewing for the past couple of years.
Malaysia is now entering the last four months of the government’s five-year mandate.
Prime Minister Najib Razak has the right to call for the polls anytime until June 24, when Parliament will automatically dissolve.
After that date, the Election Commission (EC) must call for elections within 60 days. The EC is a unit under the Prime Minister’s Department.
Below are some key dates for those still guessing when polls will be held.
March 5 to April 5
Parliament is in session for the last time for the 2013 election cycle.
March 17 to 25
(March 16 to 24 for Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu where weekends are on Fridays and Saturdays)
School holidays. Many schools are used as polling centres thus and a good period for polls without disrupting classes.
May 16 to June 14
Fasting month for Muslims. Malaysia has never held an election during Ramadan.
June 9 to June 24
(June 8 to 23 for the same four states)
School holidays due to Hari Raya Puasa on June 15. Many Muslims celebrate the festival for an entire month so polls are unlikely during this period.
Kelantan’s state assembly will automatically dissolve on this date, as it was the first legislature to meet after the 2013 general election. Polls for the state must be held within 60 days.
Automatic dissolution of Parliament and elections must be held within 60 days of this date.
Hari Raya Haji, to celebrate the holy pilgrimage for Muslims, falls close to the final days in which a parliamentary elections must be held. Pilgrims are expected to begin their journey to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, prior to this, so an elections would have to be called in the first half of August to avoid a clash.
These considerations mean that the earliest window for polling would be during the March school holidays. But if the government still has outstanding business in parliament, then it could still use the mid-April to early-May period, before Ramadan.
After the fasting month begins, the government would want to allow Muslims to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri for a few weeks first, so the next opportunity would be the end of June, stretching to the beginning of August.