Speech by Lim Kit Siang at the Miri DAP Branch Dinner to celebrate 30th Sarawak DAP Anniversary in Miri on Saturday, 20th December 2008: 

Which earlier – next Sarawak state election or 13th national election?

Which will be held earlier – the next Sarawak state general election or the 13th national general election?

The conventional wisdom will be the former as the Sarawak state general election is expected to be held in the next 12 to 18 months.

In the May 20, 2006 Sarawak state general election, the Sarawak Barisan Nasional suffered a major and unforgettable blow when its political hegemony in the Sarawak State Assembly was smashed with the loss of nine state assembly seats – six to the DAP.

After the “political tsunami” of March 8, 2008 general election, where five states in Peninsular Malaysia fell to Pakatan Rakyat and the Barisan Nasional lost for the first time its parliamentary two-thirds majority, the expectation and hunger for greater political change is thick in the air all over the country.

In the first six months after the March 8 general election, Sabah held the political centre-stage as the pivotal state to take the “political tsunami” to a higher level.

Although this has still to come to fruition, the political centre of gravity has shifted to Sarawak which is expected to go to the polls in the next 12 to 18 months – providing a critical test whether the political changes started in the May 2006 Sarawak state general election and expanded in the March 2008 national general election will culminate in a great political tsunami in the next Sarawak state general election with the toppling of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and the Sarawak Barisan Nasional state government.

In the next Sarawak state general election, DAP and PKR must endeavour their utmost to ensure that they could unite their resources and efforts to present a single slate of candidates to ensure that the ‘political tsunami” can come fully to Sarawak for a new government to be formed.

However, I am not certain whether the next Sarawak state general election will be earlier than the next 13th national general election, as the first thing Najib Razak must decide when he takes over as Prime Minister from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in early April next year is whether to hold a snap general election to take full advantage of the initial “honeymoon” euphoria of a new Prime Minister.

It is not going to be an easy decision for Najib. Both his predecessors, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Abdullah had taken full advantage of their first months as Prime Minister to win big in their first general election.

The temptation for Najib to go down the same route will be very great, although he would be faced with problems which both Mahathir and Abdullah did not have to face – the worst-ever economic crisis and the possibility of Barisan Nasional and Umno losing power.

But is there any surety that Najib will be on a better wicket if he forgoes the advantages of having a snap general election in his early months as the new Prime Minister by calling his first polls only after some three years as Prime Minister, i.e. 2012, when he would have to campaign on the results he could deliver as PM and not on promises or nd appeal to the voters to give him a chance to perform?

Najib must be mindful of the most famous political prophecy “RAHMAN” as to whether the final and sixth alphabet “N” signifies not only his becoming the sixth Prime Minister, but whether he would be the last in the line of UMNO Prime Ministers before giving way to a new Malaysian government and political coalition.

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