KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Ruling Barisan Nasional's readiness to face the 14th general election is now at 9.5 on a scale of 1 to 10, said Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Describing the 14th general election as "hari besar" (a big day), the Deputy Prime Minister and Barisan deputy chairman confirmed that the polls will likely be held after Chinese New Year, which falls on Feb 16.
"As head of the task force appointed by the Prime Minister and Barisan chairman (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) to ensure our readiness to face GE14, we are going to the battleground as soon as the gong is struck by the PM.
"I would put our readiness right now at 9.5 on a scale of 1 to 10," Dr Ahmad Zahid said in an interview with Star Media Group.
Asked about an earlier hint on the election which he dropped on Sunday in his constituency of Bagan Datuk, Perak, where he said that the election may be held after Chinese New Year, Dr Ahmad Zahid said: "I have hinted at this twice, at two different events, where I mentioned that the election will be next year.
"When I met the Chinese community in Bagan Datuk recently, I told them to expect a hari besar after Chinese New Year, but that doesn't mean immediately after the festival."
In 2008, Parliament was dissolved on Feb 13, six days after Chinese New Year, with polling held on March 8.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said Barisan's election machinery had been activated at the state and polling district centre level.
It is understood that he will also be visiting the states every month to monitor the situation as well as the readiness of the state machinery.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said Barisan would have a special manifesto for Selangor and Penang respectively.
"In our main manifesto, we will include items needed by each constituency. We are also taking into account the needs of each state government but we have to look into whether all this is within our capacity."
He said that apart from ensuring support from Umno members and traditional supporters, the party must win support from the middle ground of the electorate - the undecided voters.
"Barisan and Umno supporters alone cannot win seats in GE14," he said of the ruling coalition and Malaysia's biggest political party.