Malaysia’s “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” – how to change a Prime Minister who has locked up support of the UMNO warlords

Some 75 years ago, a statesman spoke about a “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”.

We in Malaysia seems to be in that position now – how do you change a Prime Minister, who has become the most unpopular Prime Minister in the nation’s history, but who seems to have locked up the support of UMNO warlords and therefore the majority of UMNO/Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament, where a vote of no confidence in Parliament against the Prime Minister seems to hold no chance of success.

In developed parliamentary democracies, which Malaysia aspires to join in five years’ time, there is no problem for a change of unpopular Prime Ministers as witnessed the smooth and quick ouster of the Prime Minister of Australia in the middle of this month.

If Australia practises Najib style of parliamentary democracy, Malcolm Turnbull would not be the Australian Prime Minister today but would be in jail defending charges of trying to “topple” Tony Abbot as Prime Minister and for “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy”!

Yesterday, former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir said that the country’s economy can only recover with the removal of Najib as Prime Minister.

In a blog posting, Mahathir said this is the only way Malaysia’s faltering economy and currency can be revived.

He blogged: “If the currency and the economy are to recover, Najib must cease to be prime minister of Malaysia. Malaysians must demand for Najib’s removal.

“Only his ceasing to be the prime minister of Malaysia will the economy recover, the ringgit revalued up and the cost of living go down.

“Only after his removal can Malaysians stand tall again.”

Najib is already a minority Prime Minister as UMNO/Barisan Nasional coalition only won 47% of the popular vote as compared to Pakatan Rakyat’s 52%.

If there is a national referendum as to whether the country’s economy and currency can only recover, and the multiple crisis of confidence afflicting the country resolved, if Najib is removed as Prime Minister, I think it would be possible to garner more than 75% of the national votes in support for a change of Prime Minister – the 52% of the electorate who voted against Najib in the 13th General Election plus more than half of the electorate who voted for UMNO/BN, i.e. 52% + 23.5% = 75.5%.

In fact, if the 3.5 million UMNO members are allowed to have their say, I am sure the majority of UMNO members will reflect the wishes of the majority of Malaysians in wanting to have a new Prime Minister.

But UMNO members cannot have their say on this matter, as even the UMNO party elections have been postponed until after the next general elections in 24 to 32 months’ time.

Malaysia’s parliamentary democracy is quite unique as there seems to be a suggestion that a no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister is not permissible at all, which would put the Malaysian Parliament in the dinosaur class by itself in the world parliamentary democracies .

I do not think the case that a no confidence motion is not permissible in Malaysian Parliament is tenable or sustainable, as the problem is not submitting it and placing it on the Parliamentary Order Paper, but getting it debated and decided upon, and most important of all, securing the requisite simple majority for the no-confidence motion to be passed.

The Malaysian Parliament has 222 MPs and an absolute simple majority will be 112 – are there 112 MPs from both sides of the House who are prepared to vote in support of a no-confidence motion against Najib?

Of course, in an actual voting, it may not be necessary to have 112 MPs to vote in support of the no-confidence motion, which is only required if there is full attendance and voting by all the 222 MPs present. Otherwise, the simple majority of whatever the total number of MPs present and voting will clinch a victory for the motion.

Although the deadline for parliamentary questions for the 25-day budget meeting of Parliament from Oct. 19 to Dec. 3 is past, I do not think there is any notice for a motion of no confidence from any UMNO/BN backbencher – although such a motion could be submitted any time during the parliamentary meeting as all it requires is 14-days’ notice.

How to ensure there will be adequate UMNO/BN MPs to support the no-confidence motion against Najib as Prime Minister in the forthcoming Parliament?

Mahathir proposed last month that the Opposition support a no-confidence vote in Parliament against Najib as Prime Minister while still retaining Barisan Nasional as government.

It is an interesting proposition but leave important questions unanswered – for instance, how to ensure that there would not be a future Najib as the present Prime Minister is the product of the rotten and decadent political and economic system, and how such a system could be changed for Malaysia to learn from its past errors.

The Sept. 16 Red Shirts Perhimpunan Maruah Melayu is one product of the political crisis and turmoil which had engulfed the country for months because of the deliberate playing of the race card to shore up support for Najib as Prime Minister.

This is why the 34-hour Bersih 4 rally on August 29/30 which was attended by hundreds of thousands of Malaysians regardless of race, religion, region, gender, age or politics completely transcending race in support of the common national objective of good governance and clean, free, fair elections was irresponsibly twisted and distorted into a DAP-masterminded Chinese challenge to Malay political power, so as to justify the holding of the highly-provocative racist Sept. 16 Red Shirts rally – as highlighted by the Channel News Asia television documentary “A fractured nation” and the subject of the latest Economist editorial entitled “Playing With Fire”.

I want to take up what the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in Kuching last night – denying that he is a racist and declaring that racism does not exist in Malaysia.

Lets not talk about the past, but the present and the future.

I challenge Zahid to fully commit himself, the UMNO/BN government and coalition parties as from today, Sept. 26, 2018, to forswear playing the race card or any form of racialism to resolve the multitude of political, economic, good governance and nation building crisis confronting the country.

Is Zahid prepared to have discussions on how the country can have a soft landing instead of a hard landing to resolve the multitude of crisis facing the country?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah