86-Day Countdown to 13GE: PR does not have to play the game of one-up-manship with BN

After being dumbstruck and eerily silent on Saturday after the historic KL112 rally of over a hundred thousand Malaysians of all races, religions and regions at Merdeka Stadium and the whole of Sunday, UMNO/Barisan Nasional leaders have suddenly found their voices and are stumbling over themselves to minimise and play down the political tidal waves released by KL112.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was clearly too distraught by the success of the peaceful holding of KL112 to claim credit for the Pakatan Rakyat mega-rally when hosting the UMNO general assembly 2012 Media Appreciation Night on Saturday night itself.

After closeting with his strategists the whole of Sunday to calculate the political costs to UMNO/BN particularly in the forthcoming 13GE, Najib has sufficiently recovered from the political setbacks to publicly declare yesterday that the KL112 exemplifies the success of the political and government reforms he had initiated since becoming Prime Minister some four years ago.

Najib conspicuously omitted to explain why the Bersih 2.0 and Bersih 3.0 rallies held also during his premiership were such police and BN government disasters, as KL112 has proved beyond a shadow of doubt that Malaysians are peace-loving people who only want to peacefully exercise their right to free assembly and expression and both Bersih 2.0 and Bersih 3.0 rallies would have been international models of peaceful assemblies if not because of high-handed and repressive police and government actions.

But Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, in anticipation of query on such omissions, gave a partial response when he blamed the Bersih 3.0 chaos on the organisers’ rejection of the government’s offer to hold it in a stadium instead, as if police rampage, abuses of power and excessive use of force such as indiscriminate firing of tear gas and chemically-laced water cannon could be justified under any circumstances!

Even the eminence grise of the Najib premiership, former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir broke his silence on KL112, describing it as a “mimicry” of what happened in several Arab countries with the intention of toppling the present government as the organisers cannot win through the general election.

Mahathir said the same thing about the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28, 2012, alleging that it was intended as “an uprising” to overthrow the government as the Opposition knew that through the election process, people will not give them the power to form the government.

At the time, Mahathir was not the only one to rant about the Bersih 3.0 rally and made wild and silly allegations - with Najib alleging that the Bersih 3.0 “sit-in” at Dataran Merdeka was a coup d’etat attempt by the opposition to topple the government, Hishammuddin alleging that “some parties wanted serious injuries and deaths”, the blind support by three former Inspector-Generals of Police to Najib’s “coup d’etat” allegation and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz informing Parliament that salt and mineral water bottles could be weapons of mass destruction to topple the Najib government.

At least, Najib has been sufficiently “transformed” enough not to make wild and baseless allegations about KL112 – though his thanking of Pakatan Rakyat for ensuring that KL112 was peaceful has yet to be reciprocated by the rest of his UMNO/BN entourage.

Mahathir however remains an exception, as the former Prime Minister is still hewing to his wild allegation that KL112 was meant to be a replica of the Arab Spring to topple the elected UMNO/BN.

DAP and Pakatan Rakyat are not aiming to duplicate an Arab Spring but want a Malaysian Spring through peaceful and democratic means through the ballot box in the 13GE.

Najib said yesterday that the peaceful transition of power as the result of popular democratic elections is “our tradition”, claiming that this is borne out by the results of the 12 general elections since independence.

Having repeatedly challenged Najib in the past four years to declare publicly that he, UMNO and Barisan Nasional would ensure a peaceful transition of power in Putrajaya to Pakatan Rakyat if this is the verdict of the voters in the 13GE, I find Najib’s response unsatisfactory as it is most evasive.

Najib’s reference to the “peaceful transition of power” in the past 12 general elections in the country is quite irrelevant, because there had not been a single one of the 12 general election in the nation’s 55 year history which had effected a “peaceful transition of power” at the federal level to another party or coalition, resulting in a change of Prime Minister from an Opposition party or coalition immediately after the general elections.

What will happen in the 13GE is a completely different scenario altogether from all the past 12 general elections – as it will decide whether the incumbent BN or opposition Pakatan Rakyat will be the Federal Government and whether the incumbent Najib or opposition Datuk Seri Anwar will be the new Prime Minister after the 13GE.

In the circumstances, Najib cannot continue to evade the question whether he, UMNO and Barisan Nasional would accept the voters’ verdict in the 13GE for Pakatan Rakyat to replace Barisan Nasional in Putrajaya and ensure a peaceful transition for Anwar to replace him as Prime Minister.

UMNO/BN leaders and the utterly discredited mainstream mass media (MSM), whether print, broadcast or online, are spending a lot of time, energy and money claiming that KL112 was a failure, whether in terms of crowd attendance or impact.

Najib and his UMNO/BN lieutenants have to spend millions of ringgit of public funds to pay for attendance and attract crowds to their functions, but in the case of KL112, over 100,000 Malaysians of all races and religions came of their free will and expenses from all over the country to make a success of the historic Merdeka stadium rally and even contributed some RM262,000 to defray the expenses of KL112 and advance the UBAH agenda for the 13GE.

PR does not have to play the game of one-up-manship with BN as KL112 is undeniably a major morale booster for UBAH in the 13GE which is around the corner and PR should just move on.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur