Call for a new political consensus to tackle Malaysia’s multitude of economic, political, good governance and nation-building crisis and restore Malaysians’ self-confidence in our ability to compete with best in the world

The speech by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak to the Malay Contractors Association on Saturday night that blame should not be placed entirely on the government for what is happening in the country right now, especially with the weakening ringgit, is symptomatic of the seriousness of the denial syndrome afflicting the government of the country.

Instead of uniting the national energies and creative talents of the country’s plural people to find solutions to the prolonged crisis of confidence bedevilling the nation, threatening to reduce Malaysia from a first-world “hopeful” to a mediocre third-world nation, Najib is more obsessed with denying or underplaying the seriousness and magnitude of the crisis of confidence in the country or inventing excuses for the nation’s woes by blaming them on everybody else except his leadership in the country.

Despite his earlier signature policy of 1Malaysia and his promise to be an open, moderate and liberal Prime Minister, Najib is turning out to be a very polarising Prime Minister who have allowed his followers to play the race and religious cards to perpetuate his political position in party and government.

It is sad and tragic if Najib’s premiership is remembered and identified by the M2.6 billion “donation” and RM50 1MDB twin mega scandals, instead of by his political initiatives like 1Malaysia policy, the National Transformation Programme or the Global Movement of Moderates which have been effectively abandoned by deed in not by words, gathering dust in the archives of Najib’s administration.

In the sixth decade of our nationhood since the achievement of Merdeka in 1957 and the formation of Malaysia in 1963, Malaysia has lost its way.

I still remember the heady days of Merdeka in 1957, when I was in secondary school, when the people in the country had high hopes and ambitions.

When Malaysia was formed 52 years ago in 1963, our country was second in Asia after Japan in terms of economic development, prosperity and per capita income, wealthier rthan other Asian countries including South Korea and Taiwan which were much poorer and backward at the time.

But over the decades, Malaysia lost out in the race of economic competitiveness and educational excellence and by the nineties, Malaysia had been left behind with the emergence of the Asian economic tigers comprising Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan while Malaysia could only aspire to be the next Asian tiger.

But these hopes of Malaysia becoming the next economic tiger perished with the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s – and today, Malaysia is even further behind the economic tigers as well as risk being taken over by other countries both in Asia and Africa.

Today, bogged down with a multitude of crises which had been described as the coning of a “perfect storm” to hit the country, Malaysians have lost the self-confidence to re-make the world that they had displayed in earlier decades.

Last year, Malaysians abroad were ashamed to admit they are Malaysians – because of missing MAS jetliner, MH 370. This year, Malaysians are again ashamed to admit that they are Malaysians because of the twin mega scandals of RM2.6 billion “donation” and RM50 billion1MDB.

Malaysians have lost our sense of direction, bearings and even moorings.

Najib has conspired with the UMNO 300 against the interests of 30 million Malaysians, including the three million UMNO members, to perpetuate his political position and Prime Minister’s post despite the whole gamut of economic, political, good governance and nation-building crises in the country.

If DAP and Pakatan Harapan are only interested in our own political interests, we will do everything possible to ensure that Najib will remain as Prime Minister and lead UMNO/Barisan Nasional into the 14th General Elections because he will be an easier target with so many political and economic scandals exploding all over the place.

If we want Najib to lead UMNO/BN in the 14 GE,we will not force an issue of a vote of confidence in Parliament, whether in the form of a no-confidence motion or in defeating the government on an important measure like the Second Reading of the 2016 Budget which will be voted on Monday 16th November at the end of the three-day Ministerial winding-up of the budget debate.

But our national interests must override all our political party interests for we want to send a clear and unmistakable message that the present state of national affairs where confidence, whether national or international, has plumbed to the lowest depths in the nation’s history, cannot continue for the next two-and-half-years before the 14th General Elections, as the country cannot afford the great economic and nation-building costs of such prolonged crisis of confidence.

Will Najib be voted out of power on Monday with the rejection of the 2016 budget which he had presented to Parliament?

Pakatan Harapan has 72 Members of Parliament, but only 71 votes, as I have been suspended from Parliament for six months. PAS has declared that it will not support any effort to vote out the 2016 Budget.

In these circumstances, is it possible to expect 41 Members of Parliament from UMNO/Barisan Nasional to cross the floor on Nov. 16 to support Pakatan Harapan Members of Parliament to vote down Najib’s 2016 Budget by ensuring that there is an absolute simple majority of at least 112 votes out of a Parliament of 222 Members of Parliament?

I do not see Najib’s position as Prime Minister under any immediate danger with the impending vote in Parliament on the 2016 Budget on Monday.

This is not because there are no UMNO/BN Members of Parliament who are extremely unhappy with Najib’s 2016 Budget, in particular his complete failure to give proper and satisfactory accounting for the RM50 billion 1MDB and RM2.6 billion “donation” twin mega scandals.

However, unless there are some 40 UMNO/BN Members of Parliament who are prepared to gang up and team up with Pakatan Harapan Members of Parliament and risk disciplinary actions by the UMNO/BN leadership, I do not see Najib under any danger of losing the Prime Ministership on Monday.

However, even if Najib wins the vote in the 2016 Budget second reading on Nov. 16, it does not mean that the coast is clear for him and that he is safe and no more vulnerable from any attacks, particularly from UMNO itself, on his leadership.

After the second reading on the 2016 Budget, there is still the motion of no confidence in Najib as Prime Minister which the Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, has given notice in Parliament.

Even if Azizah’s no-confidence motion is not allowed to come up in the current meeting of Parliament for debate and vote, Najib’s position as Prime Minister and head of the UMNO/BN coalition government could still come under challenge after the Parliamentary meeting on Dec. 3, largely through a constitutional precedent on the toppling of a head of government which had been set by none other than Najib himself.

Recent polls in August 2015 have shown that for the first time in the nation’s history, approval for the government among Malays have fallen below 50 per cent since Merdeka Centre began recording the data in February 2012.

Malay support for the government fell from 52% in January this year to 31 per cent in August, and this could have fallen even lower now in November after the many economic and political economic scandals in the past two months, with the 1MDB and RM2.6 billion “donation” scandals continuing to produce one adverse publicity after another, not only in Malaysia but also internationally.

The government’s overall approval rating had also plummetted from 38% in January this year to mere 23 per cent in August.

if DAP and Pakatan Harapan are only interested in our own political party interests, the last thing we want to do now is to rock Najib’s boat as there cannot be a weaker Prime Minister and head of UMNO/BN to lead the 14th General Election than Najib.

However, we put national interests above everything else, as we do not want Malaysia to go down the drain from a country which half a century ago had the potential to be among the best and most successful countries in the world losing out to one country after another in terms of economic achievements, educational attainments and a show case of successful multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural nation-building.

Today, Malaysia is faced with a prolonged crisis of confidence which threatens to transform Malaysia into a basket-case en route to a rogue and failed state where there is not only a breakdown of the rule of law but collapse of good and democratic governance.

I call for a new political consensus to tackle Malaysia’s multitude of economic, political, good governance and nation-building crisis and restore Malaysians’ self-confidence in our ability to compete with best in the world

For this reason, DAP and Pakatan Harapan are prepared to co-operate even with UMNO/BN parties, Members of Parliament and ordinary members who want to save the country from becoming a rogue and failed state by putting an end to the multitude of disastrous political and economic polices pursued by the Najib government.

The 107 UMNO branches in Pagoh have declared their support for former Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin demanding that the two mega scandals should not be swept under the carpet.

Are there more UMNO branches and leaders, as well as members and branches from all the other Barisan Nasional component parties, who are prepared to stand up to be counted, as national interest must always override personal or political party interests.

DAP and Pakatan Harapan are prepared to work with the three million UMNO members as well as the ordinary membership in the other BN parties, as the No. 1 challenge for Malaysians today is whether the 30 million Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, age, gender or politics, prepared to unite to save Malaysia.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah