From the 55th Merdeka Day ‘self-praise’ to the teka-teki (guessing game) concerning the 13th general election, premier Najib Tun Razak seems to be savouring every second of calling the shots from Putrajaya, the nation’s nerve centre.
Never before in history has a Merdeka Day celebration hinged on a desperate effort to gain political mileage as it did this year when the federal government decided to use the ‘Janji Ditepati’ slogan as the theme for the Aug 31 independence day celebration.
To the rakyat, such a theme was both beleaguering and confusing, making them wonder whether the Barisan Nasioanl-led government was even serious about commemorating the nation’s most significant date.
Calls to re-consider the Merdeka Day theme sadly fell on deaf ears as Najib and his band of Cabinet ministers tried in vain to convince the rakyat that there was no better theme than ‘Janji Ditepati’ to celebrate the country’s 55th independence.
Bemusing as it may be, the ‘Janji Ditepati’ is the BN government’s election campaign theme was concocted to win the people’s votes in view of the coming general election.
Going by the ‘initiatives’ laid out by Najib one after the other in an express way, there is no doubt that the strategy was simple – to impress the rakyat with the one aid after another, hoping it would pave the way for BN to squash its nemesis, the opposition Pakatan Rakyat in the 13th GE.
Then comes the clincher from Najib who dropped hint that the much speculated general election just might happen in November – and why November?
The premier it seems has a soft spot for all things 11, leaving the rakyat puzzled yet again as to what really the prime minister is up to, if relying on astrology is considered a must for Najib.
With his ‘yes’, then ‘no’ and ‘yes’ anwers to the GE, Najib has left the people in the doldrums, something only an irresponsible leader would do. But then responsibility has never been the premier’s strength, has it?
Nation belongs to rakyat, not Najib and Co
If the premier amidst all protest dare make the country’s 55th independence celebration a ‘Najib affair’, it will come as no surprise if the Budget 2013 is accorded the same fate, misusing and turning it into a ‘general election’ budget.
Looks like the 59-year-old Najib and his ‘followers’ have forgotten who really are the stake holders of the nation. The country does not belong to the prime minister and his cronies for them to act as they wish, paying no heed to the voices of the grassroots.
Impressing the rakyat with themes like ‘Janji Ditepati’ is not good enough. The assurance that the Barisan Nasional government cares has yet to shine through if seen from the demands made by electoral watchdog Bersih, which among others wants the Najib-led government to clean-up the electoral roll before the 13th GE takes place.
The question is, has the Election Commission started ‘cleaning- up’ the electoral roll or is it still awaiting orders? And should the general election take place in November, it is obvious that the electoral roll would be ‘dirty’ as ever or ‘dirtier’ still.
As PAS vice-president Mahfuz Omar told FMT on the November general election speculation:
“We have been prepared since the beginning. The only thing we are not prepared for is the dirty electoral roll. We are not ready for that.
“We just want clean and fair management of the elections. Is the EC ready? There are many issues they must handle such as phantom voters, immigrants given citizenship, etc. ”
It is not just the dirty electoral roll that begs notice. The issue of influx of immigrants in Sabah who apparently have been given blue identity MyKad in return for their vote for BN too is not being given due attention, in spite of Najib assuring the rakyat a Royal Commission of Inquiry would be set up to look into the issue.
November is just around the corner and with not much time on his hand, how does Najib intend to settle the many outstanding issues that have long been plaguing the nation’s ‘well-being’? How is he truly working at earning the rakyat’s nambikei or trust?
A nation’s general election cannot be held at the whims and fancies of its leader and for that matter based on a ‘number’ the leader has taken a fancy to.
But the scenario is otherwise in this country where its leader finds it such a pleasure calling the shots from his plush office and ‘reaffirming’ to the rakyat yet again that as far as power and control go, he is in charge.
13th GE might just spell disaster
Should Najib keep playing with the people’s sentiments where the general election is concerned, he is definitely courting disaster as far as the rakyat’s trust in him goes, what little of that trust is still left.
The people know Najib has not taken the demands from Bersih seriously; if he had, the premier would stop fooling around with the GE date and his fascination with the number 11 and instead put in the yet-made effort into sprucing up the electoral roll.
Forget about the fact that November is an auspicious time to hold the GE all because “Six times 11 equals 66, five times 11 equals 55 and 2 times 11 equals 22. The 11 factor appears in all, it is unique and good,” PM Najib was quoted as saying on Sept 2 in Sandakan, in reference to Umno’s age, Malaysia’s 55th National Day and Sabah Umno’s age.
Instead, it would be in the nation’s best interest if Najib who is also BN president, listens to the words of caution from Bersih co-chairperson S Ambiga.
Ambiga said Bersih had called for the election to be postponed in the past with regard to the implementation of electoral reforms.
To Bersih, the only justifiable answer to the delay in holding the 13th GE would be that the BN government needed time to push through the reforms to the electoral.
“But everyone has forgotten about electoral reforms. So the election is being dragged for no reason. It seems the government is concerned about the results [of the election]. Otherwise, they would have called for it,” she said.
Ambiga chided the Malaysian political leaders for keeping busy engrossing in politicking while their counterparts in other parts of the world discussed the economic crisis and recession.
“So who is running the country? This is unacceptable,” she asked.
Yes, the ‘on’ ‘off’ button on the GE date will no longer be tolerated. If the BN government has failed in its long overdue ‘homework’, the forgiving rakyat will grant it time to do the necessary to ensure the coming GE is held on a clean slate.
If the ruling government does otherwise, the price to pay is going to be far too heavy for the Najib-administration.
When that happens, the tables would have turned with the rakyat calling the shots.
Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.