Time for Najib to answer, especially to the non-Malays

Friday, May 8, 2009

Civil society and community leaders continued to condemn Prime Minister Najib Razak, who just completed a month in office as the country’s sixth prime minister.

The scandal-hit Najib is facing gunfire from all directions, not least from allegations of corruption that have dogged his 33-year career, including a more recent high-profile murder-and-commission scandal that has hit the international headlines.

But the harsh words that poured in was for a political plot he hatched in February that toppled the multi-racial Pakatan Rakyat in northwestern Perak state, which has a large Chinese population.

Najib’s coup d’etat against the coalition led by arch rival Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim plunged Perak into a political and constitutional crisis, culminating in Thursday’s widely-condemned assembly sitting in Ipoh town.

Malaysians nationwide saw with their own eyes the brute police force that was used by his Umno-BN coalition to quell rival lawmakers.

“If this event had taken place 10 years ago, people might never have known what really transpired inside the assembly. This is really going to strain the legitimacy of the state government. Fair-minded people will find it very difficult to accept the way in which they took over,” Ibrahim Suffian, director of opinion pollster Merdeka Centre told a foreign newspaper.

Time to face the music

Najib has tried to escape responsibility for what has transpired but civil society leaders say it is time for him to face the music and answer to the nation, especially to the non-Malays, and not just in Perak but throughout Malaysia.

“Najib must be held responsible for this pandemonium. He created this situation in bringing about the change of government that resulted in the bedlam that we witnessed in the state assembly,” said P Ramakrishnan, president of social reform and human rights movement Aliran.

Community leaders point out that of the 28 seats held by Umno-BN in Perak, only one belongs to Chinese partner MCA. This already tells of the high non-Malay rejection for his coalition, they said.

And after the violence and lawlessness shown by Umno-BN towards their multi-racial rivals at Thursday’s sitting, it is doubtful its non-Malay components MCA, Gerakan and MIC will ever be able to reclaim the respect of their communities - again not just in Perak but throughout the country.

“On what basis can the MCA represent the Chinese in Ipoh now? In the past three months, did they speak up for the Chinese in Perak. Did they advise or caution Najib that this is not what their community wants?,” a community leader told Suara Keadilan.

“Not only did they keep quiet to save their own jobs, but they actually supported Najib in the takeover. As far as we are concerned, they are traitors to our community, just like the Jelapang assemblywoman Hee Yit Foong.”

Beware. Take action or risk losing your right to clean, fair and free general election.

After losing two consecutive by-elections in Permatang Pauh in August, 2008, and Kuala Terengganu in January, 2009, the coup d’etat was launched three months ago to help Najib save face and to gain legitimacy as incoming president of the Malay-based Umno.

But it has been five decades since independence from British rule - long enough for corruption that comes with absolute power to set in and destroy the trust the party used to enjoy without question in the past.

In fact, Umno is now just like MCA. As the MCA is no longer the voice of its community, the once-mighty Umno no longer represents the Malays as it used to. The Malay vote is now split between Umno, PAS and Anwar’s PKR.

And this is why Najib has gone all out to bash down the non-Malays in Perak - to convince the Malays that he and Umno can still deliver for them. Better than PAS and PKR can.

But will his community be as unquestioning and trustful as before? Or have they, like the Chinese and the Indians, learnt their bitter lesson and be more discerning about who they choose as leaders from now on.

The answer can only come at free, fair and clean election - which is why state-wide polls in Perak will be the last thing Najib will agree to. A devastating loss is inevitable.

But by this same rationale, Malaysians must now know that their chances for free, fair and clean election have diminished and substantially.

How Najib has abused the federal apparatus - the police, the Election Commission, the anti-graft body, state offices and even the courts - in the past one month has been clear for all to see.

It is only logical to fear that at the next general election - and if it comes that is - the last thing that Malaysian can expect from him are clean, fair and free election. “Malaysia is now like Fiji and Zimbabwe, ” said PKR leader Tian Chua.


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