By Lim Kit Siang
The three-day silence by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak is deafening – his failure to follow up on Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s “We don’t want May 13 repeated” statement by declaring clearly and unequivocally that he would accept the verdict of the people in the 13th General Election and that he would ensure and facilitate a peaceful transition of federal power from Barisan Nasional to Pakatan Rakyat if this is the result of the general election.
This is the question I had posed publicly at a DAP ceramah at Sepanggar in Sabah last Friday following earlier online reports that Muhyiddin had told a national youth conference calling on the young generation to be united to ensure that the country remains stable and peaceful to avoid a repeat of the May 13, 1969 tragedy.
Malaysians were taken aback by Muhyiddin’s reference as they doubt the Deputy Prime Minister’s bona fides, with more Malaysians convinced that Muhyiddin raised the spectre of May 13 as a subtle threat to voters that there would be another May 13 bloodshed if UMNO loses power rather than as an assurance to Malaysians that May 13 was a tragic chapter of past history which would not and could not recur!
I had extended Pakatan Rakyat’s offer to co-operate and work closely with UMNO/Barisan Nasional to ensure that there will be no repeat of May 13 in the next general election, asking how there could be a repeat of May 13 tragedy if both political coalitions – BN and PR – sincerely pledge to work together in the national interest to prevent any such recurrence?
This was why I had issued the challenge to Najib as Prime Minister and President of UMNO/Barisan to declare his public stand.
My Sepanggar speech elicited a response from the UMNO secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, the Sabah Barisan Nasional secretary Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan and an UMNO MP Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (Pasir Salak) who pledged a smooth transition of power should Pakatan Rakyat defeat them in the coming polls.
As examples, they pointed out that their party had to concede defeat in Selangor, the country’s richest state, and Kelantan, which has been under PAS’s rule for over two decades now.
But losing federal power in Putrajaya is very different from losing power in five states as in 2008, i.e. Selangor, Penang, Perak, Kedah and Kelantan as well as losing BN’s customary two-third majority in Parliament.
Furthermore, Malaysians will not easily forget Najib’s incendiary speech at the UMNO General Assembly two years ago that UMNO would defend its power in Putrajaya with “crushed bodies and broken bones”, which is no assurance whatsoever that would be no repeat of the May 13 tragedy.
This is why the responses from Tengku Adnan and two UMNO MPs were most unsatisfactory and grossly inadequate as they cannot undo what Najib had said, which could only be done by the Prime Minister himself, and why his continued silence is both ominous and very poor reflection on his commitment to both democracy and political transformation in Malaysia.
Najib must be reminded that before talking about Malaysia becoming “best democracy in the world”, he should first ensure that Malaysia becomes a normal democracy where no one doubts there would be peaceful transition of federal power if decided by voters.
In normal democracies, whether the United Kingdom, European Union countries, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States or even in Japan, none of their citizens would doubt that there would be peaceful transition of power from one political party or political coalition to another, whether at the national or state level, if this is the verdict of the electorate in a general election.
But this is not the case in Malaysia. In fact, we are still a very long way from being a normal democracy, when even the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Ministers, UMNO and all the component Barisan Nasional parties are still not prepared to make a clear and unequivocal commitment for a peaceful transition of federal power if this is the decision of the electorate in the next general election and that there would be no repeat of May 13 in the country!
Najib cannot delay any further in making a public commitment to accept and facilitate a peaceful transition of federal power in the next general election if this is the verdict of the electorate, and that there would not be any repeat of May 13, or he would be proving right the recent description of him as a “false democrat” who “hold elections but have no intention of giving up power”.