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Prime Minister Najib Razak has given his strongest hint so far, telling an Umno meeting in Sabah that the 13th general election might well be in November this year.
“Six times 11 equals 66, five times 11 equals 55 and 2 times 11 equals 22. The 11 factor appears in all, it is unique and good,” Najib told Umno members in Sandakan during a visit to the state.
Najib did not specifically mention November, the 11th month in the calendar, but Umno-owned newspaper Utusan screamed out the headlines PRU13 November? (13th general election in November?).
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But despite the clue, Najib - known for his frequent U-turns - failed to excite the nation which has been waiting impatiently for what they believe will be a landmark battle.
Indeed, many experts have predicted a regime change - the first in Malaysia's 55 year-history - with control of the federal government passing over to the Pakatan Rakyat led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
According to Pakatan leaders, it no longer mattered when Najib held the GE13 as the BN's 5-year mandate would expire on 27 March 2013 and Parliament would be automatically dissolved, paving the way for nationwide polls within the following 2 months.
"We are ready for battle even if GE13 is in September, it is Najib and BN who fear the people's anger now. Their latest strategy is to accuse the Pakatan of all sorts of nonsense including changing the Malaysian flag and turning the country into a republic," PKR vice president and Batu MP Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.
"This time because the stakes are so high and Najib and his ministers are personally launching the attacks, we predict the backlash will be Umno's final 'own goal'. They will destroy themselves by disgusting the people beyond the point of return."
Devil politics and the last lap of Evil
Past top leaders including former premiers Mahathir Mohamad and Abdullah Badawi too have sounded the war drums as they sought to help their party defend its share of the Malay votes from the increasingly popular PAS and PKR.
Mahathir recently overstepped himself when he alluded to the BN's rule as being "the Devil you know" rather than "the Angel that you don't know". That unguarded remark had Muslim scholars condemning him for encouraging the people to support the Devil, which is against Islam.
And although Mahathir has insisted he was speaking metaphorically, few Malaysians are amused. Most do think badly of him for his racist and even 'evil' policies, and hence they view him as being closer to the Devil than the Angel.
However, even Umno watchers believe that Najib might be pulling another 'fast one' with his November hint. Those close to him concede that he had yet to finalize his decision.
"PM has been advised to look at some windows that will enable him to call for GE. With the thunderous support before and after our 55th year Merdeka celebration plus the excellent report by the Economist Consultant, it is the right time for GE-13. But he wants to wait for the World Bank/IMF report on Malaysia's performance and forecast. Possible date just after Budget 2013 which is to be presented on September 28 but before end November, for sure," an Umno veteran told Malaysia Chronicle.
Another 'fast one'?
The PM and his lieutenants have previously tried to appease their own party warlords by promising snap polls to be held from as far back as in April 2011, November 2011, March/April 2012, July 2012, September 2012 and now November 2012.
Other Umno leaders and chieftains including Mahathir and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin - frustrated at Najib's delaying - have publicly expressed the wish for an earlier ballot.
Many Malaysians now believe Najib will only hold elections in January or February 2013. Most have already made up their minds and are unlikely to be swayed by further politicking. It is obvious to the nation that Umno and BN will not be able to deliver the reforms the country needs.
"Najib wants to delay as he knows even if BN wins, he will have to give up the PM's chair in favor of Muhyiddin or some other leader who has the support of Mahathir and the other Umno warlords. Najib has proven he cannot do the job. Even Badawi was better. Najib is merely holding on, partly to buy time and to enjoy to the maximum the official perks that come with the PM's chair, such as the overseas trips and holidays," said Tian.
"It doesn't matter to him that the longer the wait, the bigger the chances are for BN to lose. Even the Singapore media has commented he should be more decisive or face elections when the economy is sinking. That is a slap in the face as it shows not only Malaysians are fed up, even the foreign community thinks poorly of his indecisiveness."