The whole country and all Malaysians will be faced with two critical tests when the long-delayed 13th General Election is finally held, whether in another two or three months or next year.
Time has run out for Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his window of choosing the best time for dissolving Parliament to seek his own mandate as the nation’s sixth Prime Minister has long been lost, particularly after Bersih 2.0 rally on July 9, 2011 and Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28 this year.
Najib should be aware of his plight, which explain his desperation to the extent that he has to hijack the National Day and Malaysia Day celebrations as part his 13GE election campaign - insisting that the BN campaign theme of “Janji Ditepati” (Promises Fulfilled) is adopted as this year’s theme for National Day and Malaysia Day celebrations.
National Day and Malaysia Day should be national occasions where Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, class, gender, age and most important of all, political beliefs and affiliations, can come together as Malaysians first and last to celebrate the attainment of Merdeka on August 31, 1957 and the formation of Malaysia on Sept. 16, 1963.
But when the Prime Minister is politically desperate, he cannot see anymore the clear and important distinction between the nation and the parties-in-power or among the government, political parties and private personal interests.
Failure to distinguish between nation and parties-in-power
It is the failure to make the important distinction between the nation and the parties-in-power , or among the government, political parties and personal interests that is the real cause of the overwhelming misgovernance in the country, whether gross abuses of power, massive corruption or rampant cronyism.
From now to Malaysia Day on Sept. 16, let the “Janji Ditepati” slogan all over the country be a powerful and constant reminder to all Malaysians that they must stand united to demand for change in the 13th general election if they want the promises of democracy, justice, progress, clean and honest governance in Malaysia to be fulfilled!
In retrospect, the best time for Najib to dissolve Parliament was either to hold the 13th general election simultaneously with the Sarawak state general election on April 16 last year, or in the three months after the Sarawak state general election and before the Bersih 2.0 rally on July 9, 2011.
But with his characteristic indecisiveness, Najib has lost the initiative to choose the best timing for dissolving Parliament. He can only choose the next best timing in the remaining nine months that is left before the 12th Parliament is automatically dissolved on April 28, 2013 with 13th general election to be held latest by middle of May next year.
The 13th General Election is a critical test for Najib, not only whether he could lead UMNO/BN to win the next general election to get his own mandate as the sixth Prime Minister, but whether he could win with better results than his predecessor Tun Abdullah so as to fob off and foil any UMNO attempts to topple him in the way Abdullah was toppled in 2009.
Questions Malaysians must ask
Malaysians will decide whether they are sufficiently impressed by Najib’s premiership, his “1Malaysia, People First, Performance Now” slogan; various transformation programmes whether government, economic, political or social; and finally, his “Janji Ditepati” roadshows.
Has Najib “walked the talk” of his 1Malaysia slogan and made Malaysians more united than ever or is there greater polarization whether or race or religion in his three years as Prime Minister?
Do Malaysians feel safer in the streets, public places and even the privacy of their homes despite all the publicity about Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and National Key Result Areas including reducing crime?
We have the scandalous situation where fighting crime is increasingly outsourced as witnessed the mushrooming of gated and guarded communities, but the fear of crime is even more palpable in many places than in the past!
Have we achieved the other NKRA in fighting corruption? Only two days ago, we marked the third death anniversary of Teoh Beng Hock, victim of cruel injustice perpetrated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) which must bear full responsibility for the death Teoh Beng Hock because of abuses of power by MACC officers.
Can Teoh Beng Hock’s family expect justice as promised by Najib to them that “no stone would be left unturned” to find out Teoh Beng Hock’s killers? The answer is no, that only a Pakatan Rakyat government is prepared to open a high-powered investigation to get to the bottom of the killing of Teoh Beng Hock and to bring the killers to justice.
Has MACC succeeded in fighting corruption, bringing to book the “big fishes”, as is happening in Indonesia, Philippines, India, Hong Kong and China?
That Malaysia has fallen to the lowest 60th ranking in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 2011 with the lowest CPI score of 4.3 is a double indictment of the failure of Najib’s GTP and NKRA to fight corruption in the past three years.
2 critical tests for Malaysia
Although the 13GE will be a critical test for Najib, it also poses two critical tests for Malaysians, whether Malaysia has matured as a democracy and as a nation 55 years after Merdeka.
For the first time in the nation’s electoral history, Malaysian voters will be going to the ballot boxes knowing that they have the power to effect a democratic change of government at the federal level.
Will they dare to do so and will they be allowed to do so.
Already forces are at work to disseminate lies to create fear, hatred and distrust, with UMNO/BN raising an army of 10,000 cybertroopers to stoke racial tensions with dishonst and unethical “spins” and downright falsehoods.
Lim Kit Siang is the DAP adviser and MP for Ipoh Timur