PETALING JAYA: The haj season is no hindrance to holding Malaysia's general elections, said an academic.
Universiti Teknologi Mara lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Shaharuddin Badaruddin noted that three of the country's 12 general elections were held during the haj season.
His comments debunk the popular notion that the period has always been off-limits for polls as thousands of pilgrims would be abroad and unable to vote.
In addition, this year's haj season will start in mid-September, not long before the tabling of Budget 2013 on Sept 28, which some predict will be followed by the general election.
“The precedent is already there, especially during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's time as prime minister. So, there is a possibility of the elections being held during the haj season,” said Dr Shaharuddin.
The 1964 general election on April 25 took place just two days after Hari Raya Aidiladha, while the 1986 general election was held on Aug 3 13 days before Aidiladha. In 1995, the general election was held on April 25, with Aidiladha falling on May 10.
Lembaga Tabung Haji said the first batch of this year's estimated 27,900 haj pilgrims would begin departing for Saudi Arabia on Sept 17.
The peak of the haj season will be during Aidiladha, which is expected to fall on Oct 26, and the last group of pilgrims will return to Malaysia on Nov 29.
It is still anyone's guess when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will seek the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's consent to dissolve Parliament.
However, that has not stopped PAS leaders, including spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, from urging their members to forgo performing the haj this year in anticipation of the elections.
However, Barisan Nasional secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said those who had been selected to perform the pilgrimage this year should do so without any hesitation as it was a religious obligation.
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