By Lim Kit Siang
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has out-flip flopped his predecessor Tun Abdullah Badawi.
The window for July for the 13th General Election has closed as Najib’s earlier plans for June or July to get his own mandate as the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia has been completely scuttled by the disastrous government misjudgment and mishandling of the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28.
In fact, public alienation over the government’s misjudgment and mishandling of the Bersih 3.0 had intensified and aggravated over time with the series of irresponsible and insensitive developments post-Bersih 3.0, including:
• Najib’s wild and baseless allegation that the Bersih 3.0 rally was an opposition coup attempt to topple the government;
• the ridiculous and unacceptable establishment of a purported “independent advisory panel” headed by former Inspector-General of Police Tun Hanif Omar who had publicly expressed his prejudicial views to find out what went wrong on April 28 when a peaceful gathering of hundreds of thousands of Malaysians regardless of race, religion, class, region, age or gender for a common national cause for a clean election could be marred by incidents of violence and brutality after 3 p.m that day;
• the shocking statement by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz in Parliament that “salt and plastic mineral water bottles” – which were all that some of the Bersih 3.0 protestors were “armed” with to defend themselves from reckless police firing of teargas and chemically-laced water cannon – could topple the Najib government; and
• the continued targeting, victimization and demonization of Bersih 3.0 organisers and Pakatan Rakyat leaders, in particular the Bersih co-chairperson Datuk Ambiga Sreenivasan – even to the extent of the demand in Parliament that Ambiga be “hanged” as a traitor when what had motivated her, the Bersih 3.0 organisers, the Pakatan Rakyat leaders and the hundreds of thousands of Malaysians who responded to the Bersih 3.0 rally were the highest and noblest sense of love and patriotism for Malaysia.
Although Najib went to great pains after the Barisan Nasional supreme council meeting last night to deny that he was deliberately delaying the date of the general election, claiming that there was no lack of confidence in the Barisan Nasional, the Prime Minister “doth protest too much”!
In fact, Najib sounded as if he was taking the case for the greatest flip-flop of his political life to close the window of the 13GE in July to a larger national audience because he sensed that he had not been able to fully convince the Barisan Nasional leaders at the BN Supreme Council with his argument that “the BN was given the mandate by the people for five years” and that “If we call for a snap elections, it means that we have shortened the period given to us by the people”!
Does Najib really believe his own reasoning?
If so, he is saying that his predecessors Tun Mahathir, Tun Hussein and Tun Abdullah were all wrong because the trio did not complete their full parliamentary five-year term before seeking their own mandate as Prime Minister by calling an earlier general election – in the case of Mahathir, the March 1982 general election was held one year and seven months before the completion of the government’s five-year tenure in October 1983.
Whatever Najib’s protestations, the fact and the truth cannot be hidden – that his earlier plans to hold the 13th general election in June or July this year has been completely scuttled by the Bersih 3.0 rally despite his recent bravado confidence of a “14-0” BN thrashing for Pakatan Rakyat early this week and his pretence of supreme confidence at a Felda settlement in Pahang on May 8 when he said: “If this is the kind of support that we are getting, then I think we can dissolve Parliament tomorrow”.
But Najib knew in his bones that there is no reason for him to feel any such confidence, what with the Malaysian eminence grise, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad (with some even calling him the “de facto Prime Minister”) constantly drumming home the point that the Najib government is still weak and not ready for the 13 General Election until after the fasting month.
Time is however running out for Najib for he has less than 10 months left – as under Article 55(3) of the Malaysian Constitution, Parliament stands automatically dissolved on April 28 next year, five years from the date of the first meeting of the present Parliament.