The battle lines in the 14GE is “democracy vs kleptocracy” and the political challenge is to create an united opposition coalition committed to constitutional and democratic reforms in Malaysia
Former PAS leader and Kelantan State Assemblyman for Salor Datuk Husam Musa has predicted that the 14th general elections is likely to be held in March or April, as he expects PAS President Datuk Seri Hadi Awang’s private members’ motion to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Juriseiction) Act 1965 or Act 355 to be debated only after the 14th general election.
Husam sees the move by Hadi to table and defer his private member’s bill motion for a second time on the last day of the 25-sitting budget meeting on Thursday as a ruse and “effective gambit” to create a “win-win” situation for both PAS and UMNO – where PAS can show that its “355” gambit was not a failure, and where UMNO can “milk” political capital from the issue not only in next week’s UMNO General Assembly but also in the 14GE.
Husam may be right, but there is another possible scenario – with Parliament meeting in March, but no debate on Hadi’s private member’s motion.
Instead, the UMNO/BN government will take over Hadi’s private member’s bill, which had not even reached the “first reading” stage in Parliament, and present it to Parliament as a government bill for first reading. An all-party Parliamentary Select Committee will then be formed in the March meeting of Parliament to study the UMNO/BN government’s “takeover” of Hadi’s private member’s bill for a report to be submitted to Parliament, whether in the July/August or October/November meetings of Parliament.
The first question all the other 13 component parties in Barisan Nasional, whether MCA, Gerakan, MIC or the Sabah/Sarawak BN parties, must answer is why they agree with UMNO for the Barisan Nasional government to “take over” Hadi’s private member’s bill and present it to the March meeting of Parliament as a UMNO/BN government bill for first reading, to be followed by the formation of a Parliamentary Select Committee to study the Bill.
Was this decision for the BN govenrment to take over Hadi’s private member’s bill the result of a Cabinet meeting and a consensus involving all the Barisan Nasional component parties, or was this another instance of UMNO unilaterally and arbitrarily rail-roading its way and imposing its will on all the other BN parties, as BN consensus have long ceased to exist?
Are all the other BN component parties going to adopt the MCA stand that although it cannot support PAS private member’s motion, it would support the bill if it was moved by the government, ignoring the larger fundamental question that it is not who is presenting the bill or motion, whether PAS or UMNO, but whether the constitutional principles and basis in the Merdeka Constitution 1957 and Malaysia Agreement 1963 establishing multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-cultural Malaysia are upheld or undermined?
One reason the 14GE may not be held in March or April is that the redelineation of the electoral constituencies presently undertaken by the Election Commission to ensure that UMNO can snatch victory from defeat and win the next general elections by the worst election gerry-mandering in the nation’s history is not yet ready, as it must be passed by Parliament, though requiring only a simple majority.
Another factor in the timing of the 14 GE could be the 60th National Day celebrations on August 31, 2016 as the major celebration activities being planned would be designed to create a “feel good” factor to redound to UMNO/BN electoral benefit in the 14GE.
Be that as it may, the battle lines in the 14GE is “democracy vs kleptocracy” and the political challenge is to create an united opposition coalition committed to constitutional and democratic reforms in Malaysia where the constitutional rights of the people of Malaysia, as well as the states of Sabah and Sarawak are fully restored.
There have been many reports quoting pessimistic forecasts of political and economic analysts that they do not expect major changes in Malaysia despite the political and economic woes in the country as the opposition is in disarray and the absence of an alternative to the UMNO/BN coalition.
Recent times have not been good ones for analysts and even opinion polls, as evident from the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and Trump’s triump in the US presidential elections
It is now for Malaysians to prove analysts and opinion polls wrong that there could be no political change in Malaysia in the 14GE.
A pre-condition for an effective opposition coalition in Malaysia is that there must agreement on a minimal common objective – to save Malaysia to ensure that Malaysia does not end up like Zimbabwe as a kleptocracy, Argentina as a failed state and North Korea as an autocratic state where the citizens have lost their basic democratic rights.
There are those in the opposition who do not see anything wrong with Malaysia being regarded world-wide as a “global kleptocracy”, who want proof that “MO1” mentioned 36 times in the US Department of Justice (DOJ) kleptocratic lawsuit to forfeit over US$1 billion 1MDB-linked assets is the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak or want evidence about the multi-billion dollar 1MDB global financial scandal or who are not outraged by the abuses of power resulting in the detention of Bersih 5 chairperson Maria Chin allegedly for being a “terrorist”.
These people may physically be in the Opposition, but their heart and soul are with Najib and UMNO and they will never agree to the battle lines in the 14 GE as between “democracy vs kleptocracy”.