The Election Commission yesterday announced that the by-elections for the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat in Perak and the Bukit Selambau state seat in Kedah will be held simultaneously on April 7. - Malaysiakini
The commission has fixed March 29 for nominations and campaigning would last 9 days.
Nominations come a day after the Umno general assembly which will be held from March 24 to 28.
This will be the first by-election for Najib Abdul Razak in his capacity as prime minister should the power transition between him and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi take place as promised next month.
Speaking after chairing a meeting in the EC headquarters in Putrajaya yesterday morning, its chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said it would be better to hold the by-elections simultaneously to avoid a long campaign period for the two seats.
"If we fix the by-elections on different dates, other issues will arise and this could threaten public security," he said.
Abdul Aziz denied that the by-election dates were fixed after taking the Umno general assembly into consideration, saying: "It has nothing to do with the Umno polls."
Everyone is comfortable with this decision because we feel the date would be suitable for the by-lections."
Even though polling falls on a working Tuesday, the EC chairperson rejected suggestions that it would negatively impact voter turn-out.
"If they feel responsible to vote, then they can always balik kampung and do their duty," said Abdul Aziz, adding that the schools involved in the by-elections will also be closed.
"But I will remain positive that the turn-out would be more than 90 percent. The higher we aim, the better," he said.
The Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau seats have 55,562 and 35,140 voters respectively.