90-Day Countdown to 13GE – Let Najib prove sincerity in wanting Malaysia to begin journey to be “world’s best democracy”

Yesterday evening, while on the way to Pontian to launch the DAP Tanjong Piai 13GE operations centre, I tweeted the following:

“PR to give full co-operation. Call on all Malaysians to make 112 historic day http://m.malaysiakini.com/news/218605 Police aim for 'zero casualties' at weekend rally Mkini”

This was after I read the report that the Police corporate communication chief, Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf had declared at a media briefing at Bukit Aman that despite casualties which happened during previous rallies and protests, the police aimed to have “zero casualties” at tomorrow’s rally.

Ramli stressed that security is the police’s utmost priority, that the police are serious about the security and safety of everyone and that this matter was also discussed at the meeting between the inspector-general of police and organisers few days ago.

At the meeting concerned last Tuesday, the IGP, Tan Sri Ismail Omar told Pakatan Rakyat leaders that he wants the Jan 12 rally to be “a historic moment where the police can learn from their past weaknesses” and gave a guarantee that the police will merely take on a facilitatory role during the planned rally at Stadium Merdeka.

It therefore came as a shock and surprise that later in the evening, there were reports that the police did an “about-turn” when the Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Mohamed Salleh issued a press release, wanting the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat to be held in Stadium National Bukit Jalil instead of in Stadium Merdeka.

This was clearly the result of unacceptable political interference with the police by the political leadership, in view of the demands by the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Datuk Ahmad Maslan, who is also UMNO Information Chief that the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat should be held in Stadium National Bukit Jalil and not Stadium Merdeka.

I am glad that good sense has finally prevailed and that the rally tomorrow will be held at Stadium Merdeka as had been agreed with the police authorities.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should ensure that there is no political interference whether by the Home Minister, the UMNO Information chief or other political operatives to prevent the IGP from ensuring that the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat rally tomorrow is a peaceful and successful one from the standpoint of human rights and democracy and “a historic moment” where the police begin to regain public confidence in its efficiency, independence and professionalism to uphold the law and promote democracy and not an agent of the ruling politicians to defend the existing regime.

The latest public opinion poll on the Prime Minister’s approval rating conducted by Merdeka Center in the last two weeks of last year and made public yesterday revealed that Najib’s popularity rating dropped two points to 63 per cent from last October.

This is Najib’s lowest popularity rating for the whole of last year, which fluctuated from 69% in February and April to 65% in May, 64% in June and 65% in October.

Najib’s popularity rating last year dropped to the lowest level of 65% in May and 64% in June after the public relations disaster in the police rampage and government mishandling of the Bersih 3.0 rally at Dataran Merdeka on April 28, when salt, water bottles and even handphones were regarded as “weapons of mass destruction” to topple the Barisan Nasional government.

Similarly, in 2011, Najib’s popularity rating plunged to the lowest level for that year, i.e. 59%, after the police excessive use of force, violence and brutality during the Bersih 2.0 rally on July 9, 2011.

If the peaceful and democratic “Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat” rally at Stadium Merdeka tomorrow joins Bersih 2.0 and Bersih 3.0 rallies as the third major “black mark” of the Najib administration, Najib should expect his popularity rating to plunge to the lowest depth in his four-year premiership – even lower than the lowly 45% popularity rating with which he started as Prime Minister in April 2009.

In such circumstances, no one believes that Najib could recover from such a fatal political blow to save him and Barisan Nasional in the impending 13th general elections which should be held in March.

Let Najib prove his sincerity in wanting Malaysia to begin the journey to be the “world’s best democracy” by ensuring peaceful and historic holding of 112 Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat at Stadium Merdeka tomorrow.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur