Has Najib lost confidence in Saifuddin as CEO of Global Movement of Moderates and looking for a new candidate?

The mounting pressure for action to be taken against Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, including open calls for his expulsion from UMNO, raises the question whether the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has lost confidence in Saifuddin as CEO of Global Movement of Moderates and is looking for a replacement for Saifuddin.

This is one of the items Najib should clarify today on his return from Expo Milano 2015.

At the beginning of his fourth speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, Najib recounted how five years ago he had stood before the same assembly and called for a Global Movement – of Moderates of all religions and all countries – to marginalize extremists, reclaim the centre, and shape the agenda towards peace and pragmatism.

He said Malaysia had followed up his call with both practical action and by building intellectual capacity.

What has Malaysia to show in terms of the “practical action” and the building of “intellectual capacity” for a home-grown Movement of Moderates?

Precious little in the past five years since Najib’s first speech to the UN on the subject – as all we can see is the local incorporation of the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM), the appointment of Saifuddin Abdullah as its CEO and the hosting of conferences, lectures, roundtable discussions by GMM which seemed to be held in a vacuum and going nowhere.

In the past two years, the virtues of moderation, tolerance and peace are in retreat in Malaysia, with extremism and the politics of hatred, intolerance and falsehood rearing their ugly heads resulting in the worst racial and religious polarization in the nation’s history with incidents like the extremist, racist and highly provocative Sept. 16 Red Shirts Rally.

Is this why the Prime Minister has not responded to my call that the government commission the Global Movement of Moderates to report on who were the extremists and who were the moderates in the events surrounding the 34-hour Bersih 4 rally and the 4-hour Sept. 16 Red Shirts Rally in time for the 2016 budget debate in Parliament beginning on Oct. 26?

Will Najib ensure that this proposal is tabled for decision by the Cabinet on Wednesday?

The GMM should also be tasked to inquire into the serious allegation made by the former Deputy Director of Special Branch, Abdul Hamid Bador that the Chinese are targeted to divert attention from the RM50 billion 1MDB controversy.

Hamid alleged that those in power would do “anything” to take attention away from the 1MDB issue, including playing the race card.

Abdul Hamid said: “They have confused the people by claiming that there is a plot to topple the government. Who wants to topple the government? They claim it’s the Chinese. Suddenly from a criminal breach of trust issue, this has become a racial issue.”

If Hamid is right and true, those in power in Malaysia have violated the ASEAN Langkawi Declaration on the Global Movement of Moderates adopted by ASEAN leaders in Langkawi on 28th April 2015 which committed all ASEAN governments and leaders to recognize and promote moderation as an all-encompassing approach embracing democratic values, good governance, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, equitable and inclusive economic growth, tolerance and mutual respect and adherence to social justice.

How can Malaysia, as ASEAN Chair and the host country where the ASEAN Langkawi Declaration of the Global Movement of Moderates was adopted less than six months ago, be the first to violate the Declaration when Malaysia is to host the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur next month?

The mounting call for the sacking of Saifuddin from UMNO is clearly one of the forms of extremism which the GMM should be marginalising and eliminating.

Is Saifuddin’s work as CEO of GMM and that of his successor to be confined only to UMNO/BN or pro-UMNO/BN circles, which is an oxymoron as “moderates” in UMNO/BN or pro-UMNO/BN circles are a rare and may soon become extinct species, with the overwhelming majority of them cowed by hawks like Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, who would have no qualms in committing excesses and other forms of extremism in our plural society?

Clarifications from Najib on these questions are urgent and pressing, before GMM goes the way to oblivion like his other initiatives, such as his signature policy of 1Malaysia.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah