Shortly after the historic gathering for the signing and the proclamation of the Citizen’s Declaration to Save Malaysia, calling for the removal of Datuk Seri Najib Razak as the Prime Minister of Malaysia and democratic and institutional reforms, the Najib government came out with a swift response.
It said that a general election is the only “existing mechanism” to change the government and the Prime Minister – “the only mechanism that is lawful, democratic and fulfil’s the people’s will” – claiming that in 2013, “the Malaysian people expressed their will and elected the current government, led by Prime Minister Najib Razak” and any change must “follow the democratic process and await the next election, in line with Malaysia’s laws and Federal Constitution”.
Firstly, the government statement is more than bending history because Najib was not elected Prime Minister as a result of the support of the majority of popular votes. He is the first minority Prime Minister of Malaysia as he secured only 47% of the popular vote but 60% of the parliamentary seats, a reflection of the undemocratic and unjust electoral system.
Secondly, a general election is not the only way or mechanism for a change of Prime Minister.
Surely, nobody in UMNOP/BN is suggesting that if the Attorney-General, in exercise of his constitutional and discretionary powers under Article 145(3), is convinced that the Prime Minister is guilty of corruption or other criminal wrongdoing, the Prime Minister concerned should continue in his high office?
Or lets take another scenario. Najib is at present under probe by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Justice Department under the US Kleptocracyt Assets Recovery Initiative whether any transactions and assets in US were connected to Najib and 1MDB ill-gotten gains, and if the US Department of Justice comes to the conclusion that it has evidence there were such connections, is Najib to continue as Prime Minister until the next general election in 2018?
This would be utterly outrageous and completely unthinkable.
There is another mechanism or avenue for the change of the Prime Minister – a motion of no confidence in the Dewan Rakyat.
Is it suggested that even if Najib loses in a vote in a motion of no confidence in Dewan Rakyat, he can continue as Prime Minister until the next general election?
This will be heresy to the most fundamental notions of parliamentary democracy anywhere in the world.
In fact, after the historic and unprecedented gathering today for the signing and proclamation of the Citizens’ Declaration calling for the removal of Najib as Prime Minister and for democratic and institutional reforms, the right, proper and honourable thing for Najib to do will be to seek a vote of confidence when Parliament reconvenes next week.
As a motion of confidence from the Dewan Rakyat had been sought before by the third Prime Minister, Hussein Onn on January 27, 1976 after Tun Razak’s sudden death, Najib will be following and not establishing a precedent.
The Citizens’ Declaration, which had the support of the former Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir, former Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, former Ministers and dignitaries as well as political and civil society leaders, is another major blow to the crumbling credibility of Najib as Prime Minister, whether in the country or in the international arena.
Or is Najib afraid to seek a vote of confidence in the forthcoming Parliament because he is unsure of the unquestioned of loyalty from UMNO/BN MPs?
Veteran journalist Kadir Jasin, the second speaker tonight, is right when he focused attention on the last paragraph of the 37-paragraph Citizens’ Declaration, which called on all Malaysians, irrespective of race, religion, political affiliation, creed, parties, young and old, to join in a “Save Malaysia” movement from the government headed by Najib, “to pave the way for much-needed democratic and institutional reforms, and to restore the important principle of the separation of powers among the executive, legislature and judiciary which will ensure the independence, credibility, professionalism and integrity of our national institutions”.
What we did today in the Citizens’ Declaration is the first step of the Save Malaysia campaign, which have to followed up with a national consensus on democratic and institutional reforms so that all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region or party affiliation, can again hold their heads high and be proud of being Malaysians because of our accomplishments and achievements, instead of being ashamed because of our national failings and disasters, whether in political, economic, educational, good governance or nation-building endeavours.
[Speech (2) at the DAP forum “Media Shackled, Democracy Dead?” at the KL Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on Friday, March 4, 2016 at 830 pm]