GE15: It’s all in the timing



KUALA LUMPUR: If last year’s monsoon trend is any indicator, holding the 15th General Election (GE15) before Nov 21 could be the best bet — if the plan is indeed to dissolve Parliament this year.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department said the first monsoon surge last year picked up strength from that date, and continued to worsen right up till March.

The department told the New Straits Times that there would be a total of six surges of the northwest monsoon, some lasting more than 10 days.

The erratic weather condition is only expected to subside between the end of February and early March.



Monsoon surges occur when a sudden increase in wind speed causes the cold air to surge southwards into the South China Sea. As the cold air moves south, it warms and gathers moisture, resulting in dense rain clouds over the equatorial region, including Malaysia.

The same wet weather condition for this year is expected to happen during the same period, with Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang experiencing heavy rainfall from between late November and December.

Johor, Sabah and Sarawak will see similar unfavourable weather from December to January.

Fears of floods were top of the agenda at yesterday’s cabinet meeting.



“Matters regarding the dissolution of Parliament and the general election are in the prime minister’s hands, so it is better to wait for him.

“There was a discussion (about the date of GE15) but there were also other issues discussed. We talked at length about the preparations for the floods in October, November and December,” said Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin cautioned that holding the polls during the monsoon season might give rise to infectious and water-borne diseases.

He said several factors would determine the suitability of holding elections, including labour, safety, facilities and health.



“Usually, we would avoid holding an election during the flooding season because when it floods, there will be a rise in infectious diseases, and water-borne diseases, too, will increase.

“These infectious diseases would need treatment. So from the Health Ministry’s point of view, it is not suitable to hold an election during the flood season,” he said at a press conference yesterday.

He also said a large number of people would be required to be on duty if an election were to be held during the monsoon season, where they would also need to take care of temporary evacuation centres.

Facilities such as schools, normally used as polling centres, would be used as temporary evacuation centres, he added.



Asked if he had mentioned this to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Khairy briefly said: “I don’t need to voice this out, he understands. He knows this very well.”

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan, when asked to comment if it was safe for the country to hold GE15 amid an expected flood crisis, said: “That will depend on places that are not affected by the floods. But, even then, all the related agencies like the police will be mobilised to work at locations that are affected by the floods.

“For us, it is better not to have it (GE15) now since there is already an indication that the floods are likely to occur.”

On Monday, Ismail Sabri said the cabinet would discuss calling the GE15 early.

He said Wednesday’s cabinet meeting would allow cabinet members, who represent various political parties, to share their views on the matter.

Previously, Ismail Sabri said he had yet to meet with Umno’s top five leaders to discuss GE15 and that a meeting would be held “very soon”.

Last Friday, Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan said the “top five” meeting would be held on Sept 30 after the initial meeting on Sept 17 was postponed.

NST



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