On his final day in New York just before his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak sent a very specific message back home to friends and foes alike that he would serve out in full his second term as Prime Minister of Malaysia and that the next 14th General Election would be held in 2018 and not earlier.
This is to pierce the balloon of the hottest topic in conversational circuits in the country – the possibility of a no-confidence motion against Najib as Prime Minister when Parliament reconvenes for the 2016 Budget on Oct. 19.
Najib was so satisfied with his nine-day visit to New York and the United Nations and the speech he was to deliver in the UN in the next few hours, that he allowed hubris to set in, telling US business leaders that “the government is here to stay”, that he was “not in a hurry to go back home for fear of losing my job or something like that” and that he will call for a general election when his mandate expires in 2018.
Has the danger passed that Najib might not survive this year as Prime Minister of Malaysia and the possibility of passage of a no confidence motion in the forthcoming Parliament?
It will be wise to fall back on the adage that one should not count the chickens until they are hatched, and the same applies to the possibility, for the first time in Malaysian history, of a no confidence motion against the Prime Minister.
On sheer numbers alone, this seems an impossibility, as although the Prime Minister is a minority Prime Minister securing only 47% of the popular vote in the 13th General Election in May 2013, he is head of the Umno/BN coalition which commands 133 MPs or 60% of the parliamentary seats.
Furthermore, there are reasons to believe that Najib may have been assured of parliamentary support in any “no confidence” motion from outside his cluster of 133 parliamentary seats – except that nobody really knows how solid are these 133 MPs behind Najib if faced with a vote in a “no confidence” motion.
Malaysia is today facing a “perfect storm” of a multitude of political, economic and nation-building crises.
The ringgit has dropped 21 per cent so far in 2015 and is Asia’s underperformer.
Najib asked the US investors to ignore the “noise” back home in Malaysia related to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MD) and look instead at the “real” fundamentals of a resilient economy despite the current economic volatility, but unless Najib come clean on the two major scandals on the 1MDB and the RM2.6 billion “donation” in his personal bank accounts, confidence of both local and foreign investors are not going to be restored.
However unlikely or even “impossible” at present to envisage a scenario in the forthcoming Parliament where a vote of no confidence against Najib as Prime Minister become the subject-matter of MPs, there are powerful factors and forces gathering momentum heading in this direction.
Openly, the Prime Minister and UMNO President for 22 years, Tun Dr. Mahathir had called for Najib’s removal as Prime Minister.
He has today been joined by the longest-serving MCA President, Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik who has joined Mahathir’s campaign for the ouster of Najib as Prime Minister.
Liong Sik said he attended the Bersih 4 rally in Perth, Australia to support a vote of no confidence against Najib, as he had taken people’s money and put it into his personal accounts which should not happen.
Will there be more veteran UMNO/Barisan Nasional leaders who will come out into the open to support the call for a new Prime Minister and who will dare to be the first from the present batch of 133 UMNO/BN MPs to step forward to “bell the cat” by supporting the call for a new Prime Minister?
This will be a moral and political dilemma facing every UMNO/BN MP, especially with the worsening of the multitude of political, economic and nation-building crisis caused by the deliberate revival of the race card after the 34-hour Bersih 4 rally, which was a patriotic carnival of human rights attended by hundreds of thousands of Malaysians regardless of race, religion, region or politics in pursuit of the Malaysian Dream for good governance and clean, free, fair elections transcending race and party politics.
Najib’s speech to the UN General Assembly was a big let-down, for it was a reminder to Malaysians of the wide gulf between the Prime Minister’s international speeches about the virtues of moderation and the need to margnialise extremists and the sad reality back home where the politics of extremism, hatred and lies are rearing their ugly heads, aided and abetted by the powers-that-be.
The next few weeks will be interesting times for Malaysian politics and governance.