I have been suspended for six months for pointing out in Parliament that the Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia did not have the power to bar the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) under the Deputy Chairman Dr. Tan Seng Giaw (Kepong) with the proper PAC quorum from continuing its investigations in August into the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal.
My suspension, and the two questions that are being asked all over the country as to from whom and to whom the RM2.6 billion “donation” in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal banking accounts have gone to, are just symptomatic that Malaysia is very “sick” where a proper parliamentary system and the principles of accountability, transparency and good governance cannot function normally and effectively.
Malaysia is in very abnormal political times – in the interregnum between the fall of an UMNO-led government coalition which had been in power for 58 years but have led the country into a rut after losing its moral compass and sense of responsibility as a government and its replacement by a new coalition committed to defend the democratic freedoms and human rights enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution.
This is the time for Malaysians to think unthinkable scenarios and face up to extraordinary challenges in entirely new political circumstances taking place in Malaysa today.
Before the 2008 elections elections, it was unthinkable that the UMNO/Barisan Nasional government in Malaysia could be replaced, but after the 12th general elections in 2008, nobody doubts this question as it was no more “whether” but “when” the UMNO/BN Federal Government in Putrajaya would be replaced.
Similarly, Malaysians must think of what appears to be unthinkable scenarios and be prepared to face the new political challenges presented by them, including the following:
1. Could Najib’s 2016 Budget be rejected by Parliament when Members of Parliament from both sides of the House reconvene on Monday, 16th November after the Deepavali break?
Even if Najib survives the 2016 Budget vote in Parliament on Monday, would he dare face a “no confidence motion” by the Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail or would he prefer to avoid such a test by ensuring that Azizah’s “no confidence motion” would not see the light of day in Parliament?
2. Is Najib’s political position as Prime Minister and UMNO President so powerful and untouchable that there is no way he could be toppled before the 14th General Election in some 30 months’ time – that all efforts by UMNO malcontents whether led by Tun Mahathir or Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would come to nought?
3. Is Najib being investigated by the FBI and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) under their Kleptocracy Assets Recovery Initiative 2010 to determine whether Najib is a “kleptocrat” under the RM2.6 billion “donation” and RM50 billion 1MDB twin mega scandals?
4. Who will be the next Prime Minister to replace Najib if he could be forced to step down as Prime Minister, considering that he is plumbing the depths of unpopularity among Malaysian voters – as a poll in August showed that the Najib government has the support of only 23 per cent of Malaysian voters, 31% of Malay voters and 5% of Chinese voters?
5. Is there nobody from Sabah or Sarawak who could qualify to become Prime Minister of Malaysia, 52 years after the formation of Malaysia – when Kedah and Pahang had produced two Prime Ministers each, Penang and Johore a Prime Minister each?
6. Will Mahathir end up in a cell next to Anwar Ibrahim in jail after the shocking statement by the Minister for Communications and Multimedia Datuk Salleh Said Keruak that Mahathir may end up finding himsef in jail if Mahathir’s suggestion that lavish lifestyles be used as evidence for corruption happens?
Anwar had in fact expressed “grave concern” last week over police investigations against former Prime Minister Mahathir for criminal defamation, calling for the immediate end of harassment against Mahathir and others, with the observation: “If this is how even Mahathir is treated, the democratic right of ordinary Malaysians to question and criticise the government is in serious jeopardy.”
7. Will Anwar, undergoing his latest bout of political persecution, be released from jail to regain his civil and citizenship entitlements to help shape the political destiny of Malaysia?
8. Is it possible for Mahathir and Anwar to team up in the higher interests of saving Malaysia from the “perfect storm” of political, economic, good governance and nation-building crises gathering against the nation, and restore to Malaysians the self-confidence to be able to compete with the best in the world?
9. Mahathir has proposed a Council of Elders to guide the Prime Minister in leading the government, as the Cabinet has proven to a committee of yes-men to the Prime Minister.
I agree with DAP Selangor leader Dr.Abdul Aziz Bari that a Council of Elders to advise the Prime Minister as proposed by Mahathir does not have a place in the Federal Constitution and it is no answer to the problem of an overbearing and over-powering Prime Minister, who should be primus inter pares (first among equals) and not an uncrowned emperor!
Mahathir did not have a Council of Elders to advise him an tie his hands when he was Prime Minister for 22 yeaers, nor was there such a Councill for the first three Prime Ministers of Malaysia – Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein.
What Malaysia needs is not a Council of Elders to hamstring the Prime Minister of the day, but a restoration of the institutional checks and balances which had been first destroyed by Mahathir and without which there could be no responsible and responsive system of parliamentary democracy and good governance.
What Malaysia needs is the promotion of consultative governance, starting with a roundtable conference of eminent citizens community and religious elders, political and civil society leaders to brainstorm to search for an exit for the country’s unprecedented quandary and crisi and to restore Malaysians’ lost self-confidence to compete with the best in the world.
There is an intense debate going on in the country as to which should be the first national priority – to change the Prime Minister, to save UMNO/BN coalition, to change the system or to save Malaysia?
Malaysia is neither Najib nor Mahathir, not UMNO or Barisan Nasional and the future of Malaysia cannot be equated to the interests of one person or one political party as national interests must always override personal or party political interests.
This is the greatest challenge facing Malaysians, whether we are capable of achieving rhe Malaysian Dream where all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, age, gender or political affiliation, can find common cause as Malaysians to achieve what is best and greatest in terms of the potential in Malaysia as a confluence of mankind’s greatest religions and civilisations in human history.
(Speech at the Sandakan DAP “Solidarity with Lim Kit Siang and Mana RM2.6 billion?” forum in Karamunting, Sandakan on Thursday, 12th November 2015 at 9 pm)