By Lim Kit Siang
UMNO’s “war” 66th General Assembly has ended with UMNO leaders confident and euphoric, with the UMNO Secretary-General Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and other UMNO leaders declaring that UMNO will not only triumph in the next general elections, but will win back the two-thirds parliamentary majority as well as all the four Pakatan states including Kelantan and Penang.
However, “Man proposes, God disposes”.
The possibility of Barisan Nasional wresting back the four Pakatan Rakyat states of Penang, Kelantan, Selangor and Kedah or blocking Pakatan Rakyat from winning back Perak State Government cannot be dismissed completely.
At the national level, the 13GE is going to be a nail-biting finish, with the outcome a toss-up as it could go either way with Barisan Nasional returned to Federal power in Putrajaya or Pakatan Rakyat replacing BN as the new Malaysian government breaking UMNO political hegemony.
The 13GE will be faced with a new Malaysian political demography – with the majority of the 29 million population of today born after Malaysia Day, with nearly 70 per cent living in the urban areas, eighty per cent are under the age of 45 while half of our people under the age of 25.
Who wins Putrajaya in the 13GE will not be decided by the BN or PR hardcore but the middle ground voters, comprising some 30 per cent of the 13.1 million, i.e. 4 million, registered electorate.
In the past fortnight, Pakatan Rakyat suffered its worst damage in this middle ground since its formation after the “political tsunami” of the 2008 general election.
Pakatan Rakyat must undo this damage if PR is to make history in the “mother of all general elections” in the 13GE expected in the next three to four months.
Pakatan Rakyat must not forfeit the trust, confidence and support of the middle ground voters to Barisan Nasional by default or any form of political insensitivity as PR needs the support and vote of every possible Malaysian, whether Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Iban; in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah or Sarawak; hard core supporter or middle ground undecided voter, if PR is to succeed in the herculean task of defeating BN in the 13GE.
Although the just-concluded “war” 66th UMNO General Assembly was painstakingly choreographed and orchestrated, with a lot of do’s and don’t’s for those who spoke at the four-day UMNO Assemblies to optimise UMNO’s appeal in the 13GE, the ineluctable conclusion of rational and thinking Malaysians is that despite all the talk of “transformation”, UMNO leaders and UMNO are incapable of change so long as UMNO remain corrupted in the corridors of power.
This is why I would rate the Prime Minister’s failure to declare an all-out war against corruption as the greatest Najib disappointment at the 66th UMNO General Assembly.
Compare this with the speech of China’s President and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Hu Jintao at last month’s 18th CCP Congress where he warned that corruption could trigger the collapse of the Party and the fall of the State – a theme which was taken up in the first speech of the new Chinese Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping, who denounced the prevalence of corruption and said officials needed to guard against its spread or it would “doom the party and the state”.
There is in fact more reason for Najib than Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping to give priority to the grave problem of corruption as in the last two decades, China have been making measurable progress in the battle against corruption while the reverse is the case for Malaysia.
If the trend of China’s improvement in the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in the past 17 years (1995-2011) and Malaysia’s regression continues unchecked, China will be placed in a better position than Malaysia in the TI CPI in less than five years.
Umno and Barisan Nasional have become synonymous with corruption in Malaysia and the 44 months of Najib premiership have shown that Najib is only good at mouthing anti-corruption slogans but totally lacking the political will and commitment to root out corruption, especially grand corruption involving political and government leaders.
This is why the 66th UMNO General Assembly presented the sad spectacle of the Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Aman, successfuly performing the “disappearance” act despite valiant efforts by the media representatives on a look-out for him to respond to demands by Sabah UMNO delegates that Musa explain the scandal of the RM40million “political donation to Sabah UMNO” which involved him and the Sabah timber trader Michael Chia.
Also most disturbing is the backing out and silence of the Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi coupled with the failure of Najib to respond to the serious allegations of integrity about a RM100 million defence ministry project in 2005 raised by businessman Deepak Jaikishan implicating the Prime Minister’s family and which is also related to the high-profile and long-running Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case.
Haunting Najib at the 66th UMNO General Assembly was the ghost of Altantuya Shaariibuu. Why couldn’t Altantuya’s ghost be appeased?