Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, 2nd August 2008: 

Drop Anwar’s Sodomy II persecution as the first step to end the free-fall in public confidence in Abdullah as Prime Minister

“Abdullah: We do not fear Anwar – ‘Govt won’t stop him from contesting but due process of law cannot be ignored’” – this Star headline today is symptomatic of what is wrong with the Abdullah administration, that it is terribly obsessed and mortally worried about the Anwar factor in Malaysian politics.

Otherwise, why should Abdullah be dwelling on the subject of Anwar in the past two consecutive days, as if he has nothing more important to fret about – with the grave political, economic and nation-building crisis faced by 26 million Malaysians as well as his possible legacy to go down in history as the worst Prime Minister of Malaysia despite his glorious electoral mandate in 2004.

Instead of being haunted by the Anwar factor, Abdullah and his Cabinet should focus on the latest opinion poll of the independent Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research, conducted between July 4-16 from 1,030 Malaysians, which found among others the following:

1. For the first time, Abdullah’s popularity has plunged from a record high of 91 per cent in November 2004 to 61 per cent in January 2008 (just before the March 8 general election), down to 53 per cent in April 2008. With the unchecked free-fall in the past three months, Abdullah’s popularity rating has crashed below 50% in the latest survey to 42%.

2. The popular “satisfaction” quotient with the Barisan Nasional federal government has also fallen below 50%, with 54 per cent either “somewhat dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with the Barisan Nasional government, while 44 per cent said they were either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied”.

3. Only half of the respondents agree that the leaders in the Barisan Nasional government understand what the ordinary people are going through – with 16% for “strongly agree” and 34 per cent for “somewhat agree” while 47% polled negative (18% for “strongly disagree” and 29% for “somewhat disagree”); and 3% for “Don’t know”.

4. Asked on satisfaction with Umno “as a political party in reflecting the aspirations and needs of the people of Malaysia”, there was a resounding “No” from 58% of the respondents (25% “Very dissatisfied” and 33% “Somewhat dissatisfied”), with positive response only from 36% (10% “Very satisfied” and 26% “Somewhat satisfied”). There was 5% “Don’t know” and 1% “No response”.

5. On whether Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak would make a good prime minister, there was another resounding “No”, with 47% negative responses (21% “Strongly disagree” and “26% somewhat disagree”) as against 34% positive response (8% “Strong agree” and 26% “somewhat agree”). There were 17% responses for “Don’t know” and 2% for “No response.”

6. In November 2006, 72% expressed satisfaction “with the way thing are going in the country at present”. This has plunged to 63% in December 2007, 66% just before the March 8 general election, 44% in May and a dismal 28% in July 2008.

7. In October 2006, 59% viewed the economy favourably. This has plunged to 24% in July 2008. In Oct. 2008, 49% viewed favourably the “current economic conditions compared to three years ago”. This has plunged to 19% in July 2008. In Oct. 2006, 57% favourably “expected the economy to be one year from now”. This has plunged to 20% in July 2008.

8. 55 percent of the respondents do not believe the sodomy allegations leveled against Anwar. Only 11 percent believed in the allegations, while 26 percent said they did not know if the claims were true. Eight percent gave no response.

9. Two-thirds, or 66 percent, of the respondents believed that the accusations against Anwar Ibrahim were politically motivated.

10. The majority of the respondents polled showed that they have no confidence that the judiciary, the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the police would carry out their roles in handling Anwar’s Sodomy II case in a fair and independent manner – i.e. 50% against the judiciary, 53% against the Attorney-General and 55% against the Police.

We are celebrating the 51st Merdeka anniversary in less than a month on August 31 with the country facing the worst multiple crisis of confidence in the nation’s history.

I call on Abdullah to take the bold and courageous step to drop Anwar’s Sodomy II persecution as the first step to end the free-fall in public confidence in him as Prime Minister and in the ability, vision and leadership of the Barisan Nasional Cabinet and government to tide the country through the current political, economic and nation-building crisis.

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor