The birth of Parti Amanah Negara and the formation of Pakatan Harapan in the past three months have re-ignited the lost hopes of Malaysians for political change in the 14th General Election which had been dampened or destroyed in the past two years by a mutinous PAS in Pakatan Rakyat.
Despite the treasury of the then secret RM2.6 billion “donation” in Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal banking accounts for the general election campaign (breaking all election laws in the country on money politics), the 13th General Election in May 2013 was held with highest-ever public hopes for political change in Putrajaya in the nation’s 13 general elections since Merdeka in 1957.
This was borne out by the 13GE results, as for the first time in the nation’s electoral history, the Opposition coalition of Pakatan Rakyat secured the majority of total votes cast while the UMNO-led governing coalition since Merdeka secured only 47% of the popular votes.
However, because of the undemocratic and unfair delineation of parliamentary constituencies, which translated UMNO/BN’s 47% of the national votes into 60% of the 222 seats in Parliament, Datuk Seri Najib Razak continued as the country’s first minority Prime Minister who failed to command the support of the majority of the voters in the country.
Public disappointment and disillusionment with the cohesion, unity and sense of purpose of Pakatan Rakyat set in swiftly after the 13th General Election when one of the three component parties, PAS, decided to play rogue and refused to abide by the PR consensus principle as well as the PR common policy framework, resulting in the final disintegration of Pakatan Rakyat in the middle of this year.
Pakatan Rakyat’s failure to capture the majority of the parliamentary seats and inability to form Federal Government in the 13th General Election may be a blessing in disguise, for in retrospect, a Pakatan Rakyat Federal Government would have faced its first major crisis of survival immediately after the polls as there would be disagreement not only over basic nation-building policies (with PAS’ repudiation of the PR consensus operational principle and the PR common policy framework) but even the appointment of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
For more than two years after the 13th General Election, the high hopes of Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, for political change in Putrajaya suffered one setback after another – causing them to be dampened, dashed and even destroyed.
The nation’s future was never so dark, bleak and hopeless with the demise of Pakatan Rakyat in the middle of this year and the question everybody had to wrestle with is whether there was no way for such political void or vacuum of hopelessness to be repaired and filled?
The formation of Parti Amanah Negara and establishment of Pakatan Harapan comprising DAP, PKR and AMANAH have filled such a political void or vacuum, and the speed and momentum in the membership campaign, the establishment of Amanah in the various states and divisions, as well as the launching of Pakatan Harapan in the various states, are refreshing and positive signs of the re-ignition of the people’s high hopes for political change in the 14th General Election which must be held in 30 months.
The re-ignition of the people’s high hopes for change coincides with the plummeting of the stocks of the UMNO/BN coalition government in Putrajaya, not among the Malaysian public as a whole, but even among Malay voters and the three million UMNO members.
I just read an online news report that 34 more UMNO branches from five states – Negri Sembilan, Selangor, Johor, Perak and Sabah – are calling for Najib’s resignation as they have lost confidence in the Prime Minister’s leadership, especially over Najib’s twin mega scandals and the GST.
Taman Port Dickson Utama branch chief Mohd Isa Mohd Yasin claims he has support of close to 5,000 other branch chiefs nationwide and plans a mega rally on this at a yet-to-determined venue next month.
I do not know how credible is Mohd Isa’s claim but the report matches my forecast that the battle between UMNO’s 300 chieftains who want to “cari makan” and the UMNO’s three million members who want to save not just UMNO but the country, will intensify.
The 300 UMNO chieftains are primarily Umno Supreme Council members and Umno division chiefs who are mostly in Najib’s pockets, as compared to the three million Umno members most of whom are very embarrassed by unpopular policies like the GST and Najib’s two mega-scandals of the RM50 billion 1MDB and RM2.6 billion “donation”, the lack of political will to resolve these two scandals until they mushroom to become international scandals, and the move to penalise UMNO leaders for speaking up against these two scandals.
It was recently reported that Malay voter approval for Najib’s government has reached an all-time low and Najib’s government had, for the first time, lost the approval of the majority of Malay voters.
A survey in Peninsular Malaysia in mid-August by independent pollster Merdeka Centre showed that only 31 percent of Malay voters is satisfied with Najib’s government – a far cry from the 77% popularity rating of Najib as Prime Minister in early 2013, a few months before the 13GE.
This is the first time approval for the government among Malays has fallen below 50 percent since Merdeka Centre began recording the data in February 2012.
The fall among Malay voters to 31 per cent was drastic as it had stood at 52 percent this January.
The government’s overall approval rating also plummeted to 23 percent, the worst since the polls started in 2012. In January this year, the UMNO/BN coalition government’s approval rating remained at 38%, the same as the previous poll last October.
As for Chinese voters, only five percent approved of the government compared to 11 percent this January.
The issues confronting Malaysians, including the three million UMNO members, will be whether to save Najib, UMNO or the country as these three issues dictate different strategies and responses.
The re-ignition of the hopes of Malaysians for political change in Putrajaya in 14GE to save Malaysia represented by the launching of the Pakatan Harapan campaign must seek to reach out to the three million UMNO members as well as to all Malaysians to rise above race, religion , region and even party politics to save Malaysia from becoming a rogue and failed state where there is a breakdown of rule of law and rampant corruption and abuses of power.
Pakatan Harapan must represent the Malaysians’ hope for change for the first time in Federal government to save the country from a mediocre and divided future by ensuring an united, vigorous, vibrant, progressive, just and prosperous future for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region.
Pakatan Harapan leaders must learn from the mistakes of Pakatan Rakyat if there is not going to be a second round of national disappointment and disillusionment among Malaysians for political change in Putrajaya in the next general election.
(Speech at the ceramah marking the launching of Gombak Parti Amanah Negara in Gombak on Sunday, 22nd November 2015 at 11 pm)