Ubah, or no ubah? Najib’s Wisdom Now Heads For The Real Litmus Test


COMMENT: There were some WhatsApp messages widely circulating last month urging the public to register themselves as voters. The messages came in different versions but their content was largely identical:

“Please inform people above the age of 21 to register as new voters before September 15, or they won’t be able to vote in the general elections next year.”

Statistics show that some 4.7 million people eligible to register as voters have yet to do so. These are the people the opposition is trying to woo, with the hope they will help bring down BN in the next GE.

The messages were forwarded by many recipients, and I received such messages in at least ten different groups.

The first parliamentary meeting after the 13th GE was held on June 24, 2013, and it won’t be five years before June 23, 2018.

Voters lining up to cast their votes in the 2013 election. Malaysia goes to the polls in 2018 at the latest.
Voters lining up to cast their votes in the 2013 election. Malaysia goes to the polls in 2018 at the latest.

By right, PM Najib still has about one and a half years to prepare for the elections, but the opposition generally believes Najib will not dissolve the Parliament in the last minute and it is very likely for the elections to be held during the first half of next year.

Politicians are already preparing for the big day, and there is no let-up in the opposition’s effort to humiliate the ruling coalition, especially over the 1MDB and political donation issues.

Although the last GE failed to bring on the much anticipated change in federal government, DAP is still hopeful of its “Ubah” ambition.

The 1MDB scandal has apparently energized the opposition camp. As if that’s not enough, they now have a Tun Mahathir on their side out of the blue, a veteran who has vowed to see the fall of Najib before he breathes his last breath.

Do not underestimate Dr Mahathir, say political analysts.

With a common goal now falling into place, things won’t get much more complicated now. All the unhappy past can be brushed aside for the time being. The “Save Malaysia” declaration was signed, and an alliance established.

Of late, Mahathir has been talking nothing much other than “1MDB” and “political donations”. If you think that’s all he can do now, you couldn’t be more wrong. The former PM still wields some influences in rural Malaysia.

During a recent visit to a Felda settlement in Bera district, over a thousand lent their ears to him analyzing the country’s political situation.

A political observer has told me not to underestimate Tun M. The moment Najib announces to dissolve the Parliament, some of the Umno divisions might just take down the party signs overnight and replace them with those of Bersatu.

That being said, it is yet to be seen whether Tun M could succeed in getting the opposition camp to take on BN one-on-one in the coming GE. The current picture couldn’t be more intricate and convoluted. While PAS is collaborating with PKR, the party is a sworn enemy of both DAP and Amanah.

The main opposition of Amanah, DAP and PKR are now joined with Mahathir's Pribumi party.
The main opposition of Amanah, DAP and PKR are now joined with Mahathir’s Pribumi party.

As the common leader of Pakatan Harapan components, Anwar Ibrahim will be the natural choice for PM if the opposition takes over Putrajaya, but Mahathir would pick Muhyiddin Yassin for that post.

Before a change in federal administration could be realized, perhaps the opposition camp should first fix this disagreement internally.

On the other side of the great divide, Umno is not any better. In addition to the haunting scandals of 1MDB and political donations, the havoc created by the Red Shirts and PAS’ upcoming private bill on hudud are all putting Umno leaders’ wisdom to test.

Umno has over and again denied that the Jamal-led Red Shirts is a fringe organization of the party, although Jamal himself is the chairman of Sungai Besar Umno division, and the Red Shirts have repeatedly disrupted the Bersih convoy in an apparent attempt to safeguard Umno’s interests.

Red Shirts, led by an Umno division leader, clashes with the police at a rally some time in 2015.
Red Shirts, led by an Umno division leader, clashes with the police at a rally some time in 2015.

MCA and Gerakan, meanwhile, have drawn a clear line between themselves and the Red shirts, and have slammed their hooliganism.

It was a major setback on the part of the government for allowing the Red Shirts to take to the streets on Malaysia Day last year.

Businesses in KL’s Chinatown were forced to close for safety reasons, but even that did not stop the Red Shirts from storming Petaling Street, forcing the police to resort to water cannons to disperse the mob.

Weirdly, the behavior of Red Shirts will do nothing to restore Umno’s bruised image but will instead turn away some Malay voters. Yet, Umno opts to keep mum over the whole thing.

PAS’ private bill on hudud is now placed seventh on the Parliament’s order paper, and we all hope Umno will not give it a nod like last time.

DPM Ahmad Zahid has said it is up to party president to decide whether Umno MPs will or will not back Hadi Awang’s private bill.

So, now it’s time to put Najib’s wisdom to a real litmus test.

  • This article was first published in mysinchew.com. The views expressed herein are that of the writer and is not endorsed by BorneToday.