Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Saturday, 26th
If Anwar is not a factor, why Abdullah cannot wait less than two
months to allow the former DPM to contest in the 12th general
“Tell it to the marines” – that will be the common response to the
statement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in
CNN’s World News Asia telecast live from Davos, Switzerland
yesterday that former deputy prime minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim
was not a factor in his decision on the timing of the next general
election. (“Telling it to the marines” is the scornful response to a
tall and unbelieved story/claim.)
Asserting that he was not pre-empting the former deputy prime
minister from contesting the general election, Abdullah said:
“There are other factors in my mind that I have to think about
before I recommend the dissolution of parliament and fix the date
for the elections.”
If Anwar is not a factor in his calculations for the next polls,
Abdullah should explain why he cannot wait less than two months to
allow the former DPM to contest in the 12th general
Is it because Abdullah has been advised by his strategists and the
Putrajaya fourth-storey advisers that the electoral prospects for the
Barisan Nasional can only get worse and not better, especially if Anwar
is allowed to participate personally in the hustings as a candidate?
The latest opinion poll should be a
“shocker” for Abdullah and the Barisan Nasional leaders, as it found
that the Prime Minister’s approval rating has hit a personal low,
slipping from a high of 91 per cent when he took power in late 2003 to
61 per cent in December last month, the lowest since he took office in
late 2003 and down by 10 percentage points from November.
The poll by market research firm Merdeka Center found that as the
country gears up for early elections, voters were unhappy over rising
prices, racial tensions and crime – issues which the DAP had been
hammering over the past few months and years!
Abdullah’s statement “There are other factors in my mind that I have
to think about before I recommend the dissolution of parliament and fix
the date for the elections” is very wrong for another reason.
Under Malaysia’s system of parliamentary democracy, the Prime
Minister has the sole discretion to decide when to recommend the
dissolution of Parliament to the Yang di Pertuan Agong but once
Parliament is dissolved, it is the constitutional duty of the Election
Commission to conduct the general election, including the issue of the
election writ and the fixing of the Nomination and Polling dates.
It is unconstitutional and gross abuse of power for the Prime
Minister not only to recommend the date for the dissolution of
Parliament, but also to fix dates for nomination and polling, in effect
deciding on the length of the campaign period – which is the sole
prerogative of the Election Commission!
Thus, when Abdullah told CNN interview that he had various factors
to think about before he recommended “the dissolution of parliament and
fix the date for the elections”, he was making a confession that in the
2004 general election, he had acted unconstitutionally and abused the
powers of a Prime Minister in fixing the election dates of nomination
and polling – providing the shortest election campaign period in the
nation’s history - when this should be decided by the Election
Commission without interference or directive from the Prime Minister!
Is Abdullah prepared to own up to his past unconstitutional action
and abuses of power and fully respect the untrammeled right of the
Election Commission to fix the dates for nomination and polling for the
2008 general election without any directive from the Putrajaya fourth
It is clear that as far as Abdullah is concerned, the polling day for
the next general election will be in the first half of March. March 15
was the favourite day as this was said to be recommended by his feng
The March 15 date will have to be ruled out however if Abdullah is
serious about his announcement in Madrid last week when attending the
First Alliance of Civilisations Annual Forum that he would be in Senegal
to hand over the chairmanship of the Organisation of Islamic Conference
(OIC) at the OIC Summit in Dakar on March 13-14.
On the other hand, this could be a ruse – as Abdullah could either
request for a postponement of the OIC Summit or finally skip the OIC
Summit on the ground of having a general election in Malaysia.
Be that as it may, there is no reason for Abdullah to act with such
secrecy when he should be setting an example of “First World
Infrastructure, First World Mentality” as Prime Ministers and
Presidents of first-world developed nations give several months’ notice
of the election day, and not like in Malaysia, where there is lightning
notice for the shortest period for election campaign provided by an
unfair and undemocratic election law.
Kit Siang, Parliamentary
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman