Will the 15GE be about Najib or the nation – whether he should be pardoned and freed without expressing regret for the monstrous mega RM50 billion 1MDB scandal or whether Malaysia must break away from the trajectory of a kleptocracy to become a world-class great nation?

The Prime Minister Ismail Sabri said the decision whether he as the Prime Minister or Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz will present the 2023 Budget to the Dewan Rakyat on Oct 7 has yet to be made.

He said he is checking whether it is allowed according to the constitution and legislation for the Prime Minister to table next year’s budget himself and waiting for the Attorney-General’s advice.

It would be most improper for the Prime Minister who is not the Finance Minister to present the Budget, as the Finance Minister will be seen to be nothing but a pawn.

If Ismail thinks Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz is useless and utterly irrelevant, he should end Tengku Zaful’s appointment as Finance Minister and himself take over as Finance Minister – which does not make the decision right and will make Malaysia quite a joke in the world.

Ismail Sabri also said the Umno supreme council meeting last Saturday was held in a cordial atmosphere, and there were no issues or threats to his position if he did not fulfil the party’s request to dissolve Parliament as soon as possible.

This did not however reduce the speculation that Ismail is succumbing to pressure to dissolve Parliament immediately after the tabling of the 2023 budget on Oct. 7, without allowing Parliament to debate and pass the budget.

Although this had happened once before where the budget was tabled but Parliament was dissolved before the budget was passed by Parliament, it does not mean that it was right and proper and that it should be followed by subsequent Prime Ministers.

I would advise against it as it shows that the Prime Minister has no proper respect for Parliament.

In his second Open Letter to the Prime Minister, an ex-corporate man, Yusuf Hashim, said Ismail had made “a little difference in short time you’ve been a prime minister”, but he expressed hope that in the next ten months, if Ismail “try to undo as much of the mess that 60 years of Umno and BN’s rule that has burdened our country”, he might turn out to be the best Prime Minister Malaysia ever had.

Will Ismail, the accidental Prime Minister, become the best Prime Minister Malaysia ever had?

Not if Parliament is dissolved next year, but an open question if the 15th general election is held next year.

What is the 15th general election all about?

Will the 15th General Election be about one man, Najib Razak, or the nation – whether Najib should be pardoned and freed without expressing regret for the monstrous mega RM50 billion 1MDB scandal or whether Malaysia breaks away from the trajectory of a kleptocracy to become a world-class great nation?

The Court of Appeal, in its judgement upholding the corruption conviction and the sentence of 12 years’ jail and RM210 million fine, quoted the “immortal words” of Raja Azlan Shah (before he became Lord President and then Sultan of Perak) when he was the trial judge in the Harun Idris case:

“To me this hearing seems to reaffirm the vitality of the rule of law. But to many of us, this hearing also suggests frightening decay in the integrity of some of our leaders.

“It has given horrible illustrations of Lord Acton’s aphorism ‘power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’, and has focussed concern on the need of some avowed limitations upon political authority.”

And as the Court of Appoeal Judgement concluded:

“And some forty-five years later these words still bear relevance to the appellant, and where we as a nation find ourselves at now. The ‘frightening decay in the integrity of some of our leaders’ that Raja Azlan Shah warned us of 45 years ago is still the scourge that plagues this beautiful nation. The courts in upholding the rule of law would have to do what is necessary to ensure that this modern day plague is eradicated for the good of the nation. The law is indeed ‘no respecter of persons’. All men are equal before the law, and the courts apply the law equally to all.”

May be for the first time, Raja Azlan’s judgement will become the most important issue in the 15th general election.

Let the next general election be one of Rule of Law vs Corruption – Kleptocracy vs the Malaysian Dream of Malaysia as a world-class great nation!

(Media Statement (2) by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 1st September 2020)

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