April 8, 2009 By Lim Kit Siang
The impressive victories by Pakatan Rakyat candidates in Bukit Gantang parliamentary and Bukit Selambau state assembly (Kedah) by-elections yesterday is a second political tsunami in Malaysian electoral politics in 13 months.
They are a double “no confidence” vote on Datuk Seri Najib Razak four days after being the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia as well as on Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir as the illegitimate and usurper Perak Mentri Besar following the undemocratic, unethical, illegal and unconstitutional power grab in Perak two months ago.
The Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau by-election results, with increased majorities for the Pakatan Rakyat candidates as compared to last year, are a clear and unmistakable endorsement of the March 8, 2008 political tsunami telling the nation and the world that what happened in the 12th general elections in March last year was neither accidental nor a fluke, to disappear like fireworks in the skies, but a major political paradigm shift representing the deep-seated and widely-held aspirations of Malaysians regardless of race or religion for democratic change.
Furthermore, that such fundamental political change is here to stay!
Although UMNO and Barisan Nasional leaders had claimed after the March 8 political tsunami, which toppled Barisan Nasional governments in five states and ended its unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority, that they had heard and learnt the message of the voters, the verdicts in the Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau by-elections are loud and clear – that UMNO and Barisan Nasional had failed in the past 13 months to heed the message of the 12th general election results.
This is why the by-elections yesterday have become a multiple referendum, viz:
Firstly, a resounding rejection of the undemocratic, unethical, illegal and unconstitutional power grab in Perak personally orchestrated by Najib in February, two months before he became the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia, creating a protracted political stalemate and constitutional crisis with two Mentris Besar – the legitimate and popularly-recognised Datuk Seri Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin and the “usurper” and popularly-rejected Zambry.
If Umno and Barisan Nasional had heard the message of the Malaysian voters for democratic change in the March 8, 2008 political tsunami, the unethical, undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional power grab in Perak would not have taken place.
The two-month political stalemate and constitutional crisis in Perak should be ended in the most democratic manner by returning the mandate to Perakians with the dissolution of the Perak State Assembly for a new state government to be elected by the people.
Zambry should respect the political will of the people and be honest and humble enough to acknowledge that with the unmistakable result of the Bukit Gantang by-election, the question of his legitimacy as Perak Mentri Besar cannot be avoided or ignored, and come forward to publicly agree to the only honourable political solution available – dissolution of the Perak State Assembly and holding of Perak state general elections.
Secondly, the deepening of the national and international crisis of credibility, integrity and legitimacy faced by Najib since becoming the sixth Prime Minister four days ago, largely because of his refusal to confront and come clean on the host of serious allegations haunting and hounding him, whether over the C4 murder case of Mongolian Altantuya Shariibuu or defence deal mega-commissions, as through the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry; and most recently, over his democratic credentials and commitment in having personally orchestrated the undemocratic, unethical, illegal and unconstitutional power grab in Perak.
In his four days as the new Prime Minister, Najib had suffered two major setbacks:
The failure of his maiden speech introducing his three thematic slogans of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now” to “catch fire” and inspire Malaysians, because of the wide gulf between words and deeds – as illustrated by the outrageous 46-hour release of the two Hindraf leaders, V. Ganabatirau and R. Kengadharan despite Najib’s announcement of “immediate release” and the host of undemocratic and draconian restrictions placed on the two as conditions for their ISA release from Kamunting Detention Centre.
Rejection by the voters in the Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau by-elections doubly manifested not only by the Pakatan Rakyat victories but also in the increased majorities for the Pakatan Rakyat candidates.
A third failure in Najib’s first week as Prime Minister awaits him, as nobody believes that he would be able to announce a new Cabinet which is not only clean and incorruptible, but fulfils his slogan of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now”.
In view of the deepening of the national and international crisis over his credibility, integrity and legitimacy as Prime Minister with every passing day, Najib should convene an emergency meeting of Parliament to secure a motion of confidence from the majority of Members of Parliament.
This was what Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi did when he became the fifth Prime Minister in 2003, with Parliament passing a motion of confidence in him in his first week in office. This was also what Datuk Hussein Onn did when he took over as Prime Minister in 1976 when Tun Razak died of leukaemia in London, convening an emergency meeting of Parliament to secure a motion of confidence in him in his first fortnight in office.
Thirdly, rejection of the return of both Mahathirism and Tun Mahathir himself. Within two days of the accession of Najib premiership, the former premier Abdullah had been sidelined while his predecessor Tun Mahathir was given a high-profile welcome-back like the return of the prodigal son, giving Prime Ministerial treatment when his appearance at the Bukit Gantang by-election campaign on Monday was telecast live on TV1 for 90 minutes!
Fourthly, endorsement of Pakatan Rakyat as the movement for the future and the relegation of Barisan Nasional as the coalition of the past. In the by-elections, it is Pakatan Rakyat which manifested the spirit of “1Malaysia” with DAP, PAS and PKR working as one team regardless of race or religion while Umno and Barisan Nasional exploited the outmoded politics of the 3Rs – race, religion and royalty.