85-Day Countdown to 13GE: Najib – Listen, Listen, Listen!

The latest Malaysian Internet phenomenon when the video clips of “Listen, listen, listen!” diatribe of a 1Malaysia activist, Sharifah Zohra Jabeen rebuking second-year law student Bawani KS went viral is in fact a reflection of the double failure of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s two most important policies in his four-year premiership:

  • Firstly, his “transformation” programmes, whether government, economic, political, educational or social which are all predicated on the principle that “The era where the government knows best is over”.

  • Secondly, his signature 1Malaysia policy to create a Malaysia where every Malaysian perceives himself or herself as Malaysian first and by race, religion, geographical region or socio-economic background second.

If Najib’s various transformation programmes are to have any hope of success, they must be based on a two-way communication and dialogue between the government and the governed and not on a “Listen, listen, listen!” one-way traffic imposed by the government on the governed.

Is Najib and the UMNO/BN government prepared to “Listen, listen, listen”?

Clearly not so. Or the chief economist of Bank Islam, Azrul Azwar Ahmad Tajudin would not have been suspended following media reports on a presentation he made at the Regional Outlook Forum in Singapore last Thursday predicting a narrow victory for Pakatan Rakyat in the 13th general elections.

Actually, the media had only reported one of three scenarios relating to the 13GE based on his research, viz:

  1. “High probability” scenario – Narrow federal victory for PR (115 – 125 parliamentary seats), PR winning eight state governments, viz: Kedah, Penang, Selangor, Kelantan, Perak, Negri Sembilan, Terengganu and Perlis.

  2. “Moderate probability” scenario – Narrow federal victory for BN (112 to 122 parliamentary seats), PR winning six states seats, viz: Kedah, Penang, Selangor, Kelantan, Perak and Negri Sembilan.

  3. “Low probablility” scenario – Big federal victory for PR (130 – 140 parliamentary seats), PR winning nine state governments, viz: Kedah, Penang, Selangor, Kelantan, Perak, Negri Sembilan, Terengganu, Perlis and Pahang; BN narrowly retaining Johor and Malacca.

Azrul was immediately suspended from Bank Islam when the media reported his “high probability” scenario that the Barisan Nasional would lose the 13GE as it would secure only 97-107 parliamentary seats, without even mentioning that his forecasts for state elections – that BN would fail to retake Kedah, Penang, Selangor and Kelantan and would lose in four other states, Perak, Negri Sembilan, Terengganu and Perlis while “narrowly retains Pahang and Johor”.

Would Azrul have been sacked immediately by Bank Islam if the media had reported his “low probability” scenario of BN suffering big losses in securing only 82 – 92 parliamentary seats while losing nine state governments, “narrowly retaining Johor and Malacca”?

Would Azrul be promoted if he had predicted at the Singapore forum as the Prime Minister and some UMNO/BN leaders had been boasting – that in the 13GE, BN would regain two-thirds parliamentary majority and win back all the five state governments of Kelantan, Penang, Kedah, Selangor and Perak which BN lost in the 2008 general election?

Azrul made his 13GE forecasts at the Singapore forum last Thursday. Since then, his forecasts that the 13GE could be favourable to PR rather than BN had been strengthened by the successful and historic holding of KL112 with over 100,000 Malaysians coming from all the country to support the agenda for change.

But even before the KL112, Johore Mentri Besar Datuk Ghani Othman had predicted almost the same 13GE scenario as Azrul, publicly telling Kulai Chinese organisations last Tuesday that Pakatan Rakyat could win the 13GE with a slim majority of 5% to 10% of the parliamentary seats – i.e. ranging from PR winning 117 to 122 parliamentary seats or close to Azrul’s “high probability” scenario.

Will Ghani Othman be asked to resign as Johore Mentri Besar for making such a 13GE scenario which is not very different from Azrul’s?

What is Najib promoting? “The era where the government knows best is over” mindset or the “Listen, listen, listen!” culture propounded by Sharifah Zohra in the latest Malaysian Internet phenomenon?

The Sharifah-Bawani episode highlights both the hollowness and hypocrisy of Najib’s signature 1Malaysia policy, which suffered a fatal blow right at the beginning when Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin distanced himself from it by declaring that he was “Malay first, Malaysian second”.

Although Sharifah Zohra is an 1Malaysia activist and exponent, she is totally bereft of the 1Malaysia spirit when she could berate Bawani and said that if the second-year law student is critical of local policies, she could “Go to Cuba, go to Argentina, go to Libya, go everywhere”, asking “What are you doing in Malaysia?”

I am reminded of the incident in Parliament in the seventies when I was stopped during my speech and told by a powerful UMNO Cabinet Minister that if I was so critical of UMNO/BN policies, I could leave Malaysia, and my instant retort to him that if he did not want to hear what I have to say on behalf of Malaysians who sent me to Parliament, he was the one who could leave Malaysia!

Sharifah is the latest in the long-line of anti-1Malaysia sentiments expressed by so-called advocates and exponents of Najib’s 1Malaysia policy, all products of the Biro Tata Negara, from Najib’s special officer Datuk Nasir Safar to the school principal Hajah Siti Inshah Binti Mansor, with the former not only labelling Indians and Chinese as “pendatang”, but adding insult to injury in declaring that “Indians came to Malaysia as beggars and Chinese especially came to sell their bodies”.

In the Kuala Lumpur High Court this morning, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and UMNO Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar settled their defamation suit after Khairy reversed his earlier position and stated that he did not call Anwar a traitor and a puppet of the United States and Jews.

Najib, “Listen, listen, listen!” – Is the Prime Minister prepared in the interest of ushering in honest and ethical politics in Malaysia, to immediately send out a directive to all UMNO/BN leaders and mainstream media to stop fabricating lies and false and baseless allegations implying that Pakatan Rakyat leaders are traitors and anti-national because they disagree with UMNO/BN, especially as PR leaders are as nationalistic and patriotic, if not even more, than UMNO/BN leaders?

If “Najib - Listen, listen, listen!” does not work, then the only option left to Malaysians is to vote for change of the Federal government in Putrajaya in the 13GE – the first time in 55 years.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur