PUTRAJAYA, March 5 (Bernama) -- Some 10.3 million Malaysians who are eligible to vote will go to the polls in the country's 11th general election on March 21, the Election Commission (EC) announced Friday.
EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said that nomination day in the general election had been fixed for March 13.
At stake in the election are 219 parliamentary seats and 505 state seats in all the states except Sarawak which held its state election in 2001 and the term of the state government will only expire in 2006.
Abdul Rashid's announcement at a media conference held at the EC headquarters here at 11.35 am was telecast live over RTM and TV3.
According to Abdul Rashid, the election writs would be issued Saturday while the notices would be issued the following day.
The 10th parliament was officially dissolved Thursday, nine months earlier than the expiry of its five-year term to pave way for the general election.
Abdul Rashid said that 27 political parties registered with the EC would be contesting in the general election.
All the states except Sarawak have also officially dissolved their respective state legislatures to allow for the state elections to be conducted simultaneously in the general election.
The 2003 master electoral roll with 10,284,591 voters gazetted last Wednesday will be used in the general election. The electoral roll was verified as up to Dec 31 last year.
It contained the names of 200,712 postal voters.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman, is seeking a fresh mandate after taking over the premiership from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Oct 31 last year.
Abdul Rashid said that 219 nomination centres would be opened nationwide from 9 am to 10 am on March 13. The objection period is from 10 am to 11 am.
He said that some 6,000 schools would serve as polling centres where voters could cast their votes from 8 am to 5 pm.
The EC chairman said that several factors had been taken into account in deciding the campaign period like the preparedness of the EC itself in conducting the election, the capacity of the security forces in ensuring public order and the need for the elected government to function as soon as possible in the country.
"The period of uncertainty should not be prolonged and the EC felt responsible in ensuring that this does not occur," he said.
Asked to comment on claims that the campaign period was too short, he said that the people already had a good knowledge of the political parties in the country and regarded the period allotted as adequate.
In fact, he said, over the past four years, permits had been issued for 11,692 'ceramah' or political party activities.
To a question, he said nobody would be disqualified on technicalities.
Any disqualification, he said, would probably come prior to the submission of their nomination forms due to the qualification of would-be candidates.
Abdul Rashid said the bulk of the election results could be expected at around 10 pm.
He also estimated a voter turnout of between 80 and 90 per cent based on the conducive environment in the country and the fact that the people were "already impatient to discharge their responsibility".
The EC had tried its best to "clean up" the electoral roll, he said.
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