Malaysian parties prepare for snap polls

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian political parties, including those that represent ethnic Indians, have begun preparing for likely snap polls.

The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), the oldest and the largest party of ethnic Indians, has just had a change of guard that analysts say was prompted by the talk that polls may take place next summer, instead of the scheduled March 2012.

The MIC’s chief for 31 years, S. Samy Vellu made way last week for a younger leader, G. Palanivel. The party endorsed it and has begun preparations to recover its hold that it lost in the March 2008 election.

Malaysia has 2.1 million ethnic Indians, who constitute about eight percent of Malaysia’s 28 million population.

Spurred by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s indication of the polls being ’soon’ and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin saying that these could be “round the corner”, two major political parties have cancelled their organisational meeting and elections.

The opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) that is headed by ethnic Indian lawyer-lawmaker Karpal Singh Tuesday took the cue from the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) that is part of the ruling alliance Barisan Nasional (BN) in putting off organisational meetings and elections by a year.

DAP Secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the central executive committee was “compelled” to consider the decision after two BN constituents, the United Malays National Association (UMNO) that represents the majority Malays, and the MCA decided to postpone their respective party elections.

He said this was because of “a clear signal” that snap elections would be called by the prime minister next year, the New Straits Times said Wednesday.

Lim said the DAP had unanimously agreed that resources and efforts should be focused on preparing the party to face “one of the most important general elections in the history of Malaysia”.

“To put the party in general election mode, all resources and efforts should be directed towards preparing for the most critical polls,” he said.

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