Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, 17th January 2011:
When did Najib get the veto power as BN Chairman to veto parliamentary and state assembly candidates proposed by the other BN component parties?
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced in Kuching yesterday that he will exercise his rights as Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman to veto potential candidates to ensure only winnable ones become BN candidates in the next election.
It is public knowledge that all along, the final decision on the list of candidates rests with the presidents of the respective Barisan Nasional component parties, whether MCA, Gerakan, MIC, PPP or the Sarawak/Sabah component parties.
When did Najib get the veto power as BN Chairman to veto parliamentary and state assembly candidates proposed by BN component parties?
There is nothing in the Barisan Nasional constitution which confers on the BN Chairman the veto powers to reject the parliamentary or state assembly candidates proposed BN component parties.
If Najib can veto potential candidates proposed by Barisan Nasional component parties to ensure only winnable ones become BN candidates, can leaders of the other BN component parties veto proposed Umno candidates on similar ground of winnability in the next general election?
Or is this a solely one-way traffic, highlighting the further concentration of power and greater political hegemony of Umno in Barisan Nasional in the past three years – despite claims that one lesson that BN has learnt from the 308 political tsunami of the 2008 general elections is to ensure more meaningful power-sharing in the Barisan Nasional coalition between Umno on the one hand and the other component parties on the other?
The other issue raised by Najib’s announcement is whether “winnability” is now the most important criterion for selection as BN candidates in the next election - rated even higher than other factors like honesty, integrity and incorruptibility, and whether the Bagan Pinang by-election will serve as the future model for selecting “winnable” BN candidates?
In the Bagan Pinang by-election in October 2009, Najib fielded former Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad as candidate netting a handsome victory although Isa had a tainted past – forced to vacate his Ministerial position in the Cabinet and suspended for three years as Umno member after being found guilty of money politics, but never charged in court for the corruption offence.
Although Mohd Isa won the Bagan Pinang by-election, his candidature exposed the hollowness and hypocrisy of the Najib administration’s Government Transformation Programme (GTP) in declaring “fighting corruption” as one of the six NKRA priority areas for constant assessment of “key performance indicators”.
In fact, former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir and veteran Umno leader Tengku Razaleigh had rightly warned that with Mohd Isa’s candidate, Umno and Barisan Nasional can win the battle in the Bagan Pinang by-election but they will lose the battle in the next general elections.
This is because Mohd Isa’s victory would tell Malaysians and the world that Najib and his administration are not capable of the far-reaching political, economic, educational, social and cultural reforms needed in the country to remake Malaysia an united, democratic, just, competitive and progressive nation to take our rightful place in the international community.
Mohd Isa’s recent appointment as Chairman of FELDA had only driven home this message – that winning in the next general election will be Najib’s top priority even if his alphabet soup of slogans, 1Malaysia, GTP, ETP, etc are to take a back seat.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor