The dissolution of parliament to pave the way for Malaysia's general election looks likely to take place only after the second week of April as PM Najib Tun Razak is scheduled to perform the umrah or minor haj next week.
Sources said the Prime Minister is expected to depart for Saudi Arabia on April 3 after chairing the next cabinet meeting and taking part in a cycling event in Putrajaya.
He is expected to return two days later.
For Muslims, the umrah is sometimes performed to seek guidance before making major decisions and for Najib, it has been an annual ritual.
Speculation has been growing that the Prime Minister, who will mark his fourth year in office next Wednesday, may stretch close to the full five-year term of the current parliament, which expires on April 30, before calling for polls.
“We are ready but Barisan component parties and machinery can always use any extra time available to ensure that we are as prepared as possible for the general election,” said Barisan Nasional multi-party coalition information chief Datuk Ahmad Maslan.
The state legislature of the Malaysian state of Negri Sembilan expired on Thursday and all but three states will follow if the Prime Minister decides to allow parliament to run its full term.
Penang's term expires on May 2, and Kedah and Terengganu both expire on May 6.
Over the past few days, the Prime Minister has been chairing a series of meetings with Barisan component party leaders and the coalition's state leaders to finalise the candidate list.
In addition to performing the umrah, it is understood that Najib could also make a quick trip to Brunei on April 24 to attend the ASEAN Summit.
No Malaysian Prime Minister has ever given the meeting a miss, as ASEAN is the cornerstone of the country's foreign policy.
Mazwin Nik Anis and Razak Ahmad
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