65-Day Countdown to 13GE – Will Najib establish four dubious political records as Malaysian Prime Minister?

Datuk Seri Najib Razak said last Saturday that he knew when to see the Yang di Pertuan Agong to ask for the dissolution of Parliament and there is no need to “jolok” (pester) him on when the 13th general elections will be held.

It is not the Prime Minister who is being “jolok” about the dissolution of Parliament, but 28 million Malaysians who had been “jolok” by Najib in the past two years to be on “13GE mode” – all because Najib is the most indecisive, hesitant and flip-flop Prime Minister in Malaysian history.

Already, Najib has established two dubious political records as Prime Minister.

The question is whether he would establish another two more dubious political records by the time the 13GE is finally held.

Najib is already the longest Prime Minister without an elected mandate of his own – close to three years and10 months, longer than four Prime Ministers before him, namely Tun Abdullah, Tun Mahathir, Tun Hussein and his father Tun Razak before they sought a mandate of their own after taking over the mantle of premiership.

Najib has also established a second dubious record as PM – with the Parliament during his term serving out its longest tenure. The last general elections of the “political tsunami” fame was held on 8th March 2008, which is one month and three days away from its 5th anniversary.

It is generally thought that Parliament must be dissolved five years after the previous general elections, i.e. “308” of 2008 for the current 12th Parliament.

But this is not the case, as under the Constitution, Parliament’s five-year tenure is calculated from the date of its first meeting, i.e. on April 28, 2008 and not from the previous polling date of March 8, 2008. This means that the five-year life of the present 12th Parliament will only end on April 27, 2013, when Parliament will stand automatically dissolved with general elections to be held within 60 days without the need for the Prime Minister to meet the Yang di Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament.

Will Najib set a third dubious record – with the 12th Parliament exceeding its five-year natural term beyond March 8, 2013, having to rely on the constitutional definition of Parliament’s five-year tenure, which would make this the first time in Parliament history in 55 years!

But it is the fourth dubious record which is haunting and hounding Najib – whether he would be first Barisan Nasional to lose power in the general elections to become the last UMNO Prime Minister in Malaysian electoral history.

The 13GE, however, should not be about Najib or even UMNO/Barisan Nasional’s political future. It should be about the future of the Malaysian nation and that of 28 million Malaysians half a century after Merdeka.

Najib’s invitation of South Korean superstar Psy to Penang to perform his global hit Gangnam Style on the second day of Chinese New Year should drive home this point to all Malaysians.

Fifty years ago, when South Korea was much poorer and more backward than Malaysia, it is completely unthinkable that there could be a South Korean superstar who could be received as a national and global sensation in Malaysia, just as today, it is just unimaginable that a Malaysian could be a superstar whose performance in South Korea would be a national and global phenomenon as to take South Korea by storm.

What went wrong in the past half a century, that the tables were turned so dramatically and definitively between Malaysia and South Korea.

The magnitude of the change of fortunes between Malaysia and South Korea could be plotted from the data of GDP per capita data for the two countries for the past half a century from World Bank and International Monetary Fund data bases, viz:

GDP Per Capita (in US dollars)

Year Malaysia South Korea
1960 299 155
1970 392 279
1980 1,769 1,689
1990 2,374 6,308
2000 3,992 11,347
2010 8,737 20,540
2012 10,578 23,021

In the half century from 1960 to 2012, Malaysia’s GDP per capita increased by 35-fold, which is chickenfeed compared to the 148.5-fold increase of South Korea’s GDP per capita during the period.

Psy’s performance of Gangnam Style in Penang on the second day of Chinese New Year will be a real contribution to and even a game-changer for Malaysia’s national transformation if it can cause more and more Malaysians to search answers to the critical question – how South Korea could transform in half a century from a poorer and more backward country than Malaysia into a country which is two to three richer than Malaysia and more accomplished and successful in almost all fields of human endeavour, and to apply the formula for Malaysia’s “Second Merdeka”.

This should be what the 13GE is all about – how Malaysia can stop the national rot, stop the widening gap between Malaysia and South Korea, and start the painful, arduous and challenging process to catch up with South Korea’s economic progress and match its accomplishments in all fields of human endeavour.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur