Speech by Lim Kit Siang at the Perak DAP 5,000-People Solidarity Dinner in Ipoh on Saturday, 27th September 2008 at 10pm: 

Two more options, increasing to five, which are open to Abdullah to decide his political future

The month of September has given birth to two momentous dates – first “916” and then “926”.

“916” signifies political “sky-change”. Its importance does not lie in whether the change in federal power takes place on Sept. 16 but in the sea-change in the political mindset, attitudes and expectations of Malaysians about power change.

Six months ago, the Barisan Nasional was so monolithic and impregnable that it was unthinkable and impossible to envisage that it could be toppled from the federal government level.

In the past six months however, the dream and possibility of change of federal power have spread like a prarie fire among Malaysians that it is no exaggeration to say that today the overwhelmingly majority of Malaysians believe that change of federal power is possible while a clear majority would want such a change to take effect immediately.

This is what is most important about the “916” magic – not whether the “skychange” took place on September 16, 2008 (which it did not) but that the political moment in Malaysia has arrived when change of federal power is no more an impossible dream but has become a practical possibility and it is only a matter of time when this “skychange” transforms the political landscape in the country.

When the “916 skychange” takes place remains a very immediate political agenda in Malaysia – whether 1016, 1116, 1216 or in an early 13th general election.

“926” is another momentous date, for a coup d’etat was staged on September 26 in the Umno Supreme Council emergency meeting where Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was given the ultimatum to abandon his mid-June 2010 power-transition plan and to agree to relinquish his posts as Umno President and Prime Minister in March next year or he would be packed off from the Putrajaya corridors of power summarily and ignominiously.

Abdullah appears to have three options before him:-

Firstly, before the October 9 deadline when Umno divisions begin their month-long process to submit nominations for the various Umno party elections to declare his intention to contest for the post of Umno President so as retain the initiative in his hands as to his own timeline to effect the power transition.

Would Abdullah dare to fight for his political life when his first hurdle is to prove that he is capable of winning 58 or one-third of the Umno division nominations for the post of Umno President.

This is not going to be an easy accomplishment for Abdullah and he must be prepared to suffer the ignominy of the first incumbent Prime Minister and Umno President who could not secure adequate nominations to contest for the post of Umno President and the disgrace of being stripped of the premiership.

Secondly, to bow to the pressures of the “926” Umno Supreme Council meeting and announce that he would not contest for the Umno President’s post, becoming a lame-duck Prime Minister for the next six months until March 2009 – after a completely lacklustre premiership for five years!

Thirdly, to announce his retirement as Prime Minister by Oct. 9.

There are two further options open to Abdullah:

• Advise the Yang di Pertuan Agong for a dissolution of Parliament for the holding of fresh general election to end the seven-month political uncertainty in the country in the past seven months since the 12th general election on March 8, so as to give the Malaysian electorate an opportunity to decide whether they want a continuation of the Barisan Nasional government or a new Pakatan Rakyat federal government; or

• Co-operate with Pakatan Rakyat to bring about a change of federal government so that the country can end seven months of drift and lack of direction, which have compounded the multiple crisis of confidence afflicting the country.

Abdullah has less than 12 days to mull over the options available to him. It is important that his decision must hinge on the primary consideration of what is in the best interest for the nation and Malaysians at this hour of national crisis and need rather than on what would be in his own best interest and that of his family.

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