Malaysia's ruling Barisan Nasional to hold nationwide election dry run in March

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (left) shaking hands with Education Minister Seri Mahdzir Khalid at a Barisan pre-council meeting in Seri Perdana, Putrajaya.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (left) shaking hands with Education Minister Seri Mahdzir Khalid at a Barisan pre-council meeting in Seri Perdana, Putrajaya.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KLANG (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition is running a nationwide dry run this month for the upcoming general election.

After weeks of closed-door meetings involving national leaders, the top BN leadership has ordered the dry run to ensure the readiness of the party's machinery for the election which, a Melaka insider said, is set to be held around the third week of April.

Umno information chief Tan Sri Annuar Musa said they 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 during a BR1M presentation at Yayasan Kemiskinan Kelantan.

In Selangor, the dry run on March 17 will test BN's strengths, as well as the viability of available machinery and manpower, as it wants 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 out 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 days and the things that need to be done to ensure there are no hiccups on the actual day.

He added that there were various levels of machinery in the state's more than 900 polling district centres.

Kapar Umno division chief Faizal Abdullah said the dry run was a culmination of several months' practice.

He added that BN would be having a meeting on March 8 to discuss the dry run.

He said the only difference between the actual day and the dry-run day was the length of polling time.

"The dry run will be held between 9am and 11am," he added.

In Kota Kinabalu, a Sabah Barisan 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.

Another official said some divisions in the state had already begun preparing for the dry run.

In George Town, Penang Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow said the state would also conduct a dry run, although he did not disclose further details.

He said a Penang BN meeting would be held on Monday (March 5) to finalise the details.

"I can only confirm the date of the dry run and other related details after the meeting," Teng said.

Meanwhile, a Penang Umno division chief said BN had asked the division leaders to pick a date from March 4 to practise the dry run before the actual simulation day on March 17.

The dry run, he said, was to test the voters' data system, the Jalinan Rakyat Plus (JR Plus), vehicles, district polling centre and the Parliament war room.

"It is also to ensure that voters are brought out to vote as early as possible on Polling Day," Mohd Zaid added.

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.

In Melaka, the state Barisan Nasional will hold its dry run on March 11.

An insider from Barisan's main election war room said the dry run would be held from 8am to 11am.

"We expect voting day to be held by the third week of April and preparations are already being made to identify white, grey or black areas," the insider said.

The insider, who also worked in the Barisan war room in the past two elections, said the simulation exercise would be held simultaneously in all six parliamentary constituencies.

Chief Minister Idris Haron said he expected the election to be held very soon.

Meanwhile, Melaka Malaysian Chinese Association chairman Lim Ban Hong said the party's machinery was ready to face the election any time.