A month before Malaysia’s 13th general Election on 5th May 2013, something quite interesting and amusing occurred behind closed doors. Opposition de-facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and then Prime Minister Najib Razak signed a secret agreement at the presence of former Indonesian vice-president Jusuf Kalla. Why was there such an agreement?
The long and short of it is this: Anwar was confident he could defeat Najib whereas Najib was convinced he could maintain power. Therefore, Mr. Jusuf, an Indonesian who should not have had interfered in Malaysia’s internal affairs, was sought to secure the agreement – that both sides must accept the results of the general election, even in the event of a slim majority by either side.
At the end, thanks to massive gerrymandering and first-past-the-post voting, Mr. Najib gets to form the federal government even though Mr. Anwar won the popular votes. But even if the opposition managed to win with slim majority, there’s no guarantee they could form the federal government. Besides, there’s no reason to believe Jusuf Kalla can’t be bribed to be on Najib Razak’s side.
After all, we’re talking about Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation which is still heavily tainted with corruption, racism and extremism as can be seen in the case of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – or simply “Ahok” – the first ethnic-Chinese governor of Jakarta who eventually lost his governorship due to conservative Islamist opponents playing “religion card”.
Malaysia’s 14th general election can be called anytime soon, which will have to happen on or before 24 August 2018. Like 5 years ago, the same dilemma arises. Anwar is currently in prison (for the second time for the same crime of sodomy). Interestingly, Mahathir Mohamad, the country’s former premier who was on Najib’s side in 2013, has today become de-facto opposition leader.
Unlike the 13th general election, PM Najib might not be so lucky this round. He was caught with his hand in the cookie jar – a whopping US$681 million in his private banking accounts. His highly unpopular 6% GST (goods and services tax), introduced on 1 April 2015, is causing economic apocalypse – angering even traditional rural ethnic-Malays who have been keeping him in power.
Supposing 92-year-old Mahathir, a veteran who ruled for 22-years from 1981 to 2003, could somehow lead the opposition to win the coming 14th nationwide election, what’s there to stop the corrupted Najib from clinging to power? Since the Election Commission isn’t fair or clean, they could delay the official results, allowing Najib sufficient time to bribe some opposition winners to switch side.
If that fails, a desperate Najib could resort to desperate measure. As the chairman of National Security Council (NSC), Mr. Najib has the power to invoke the NSC Act 2016, declare a state of emergency without having to go through the King (Agong). Under the fake pretext of defending the country, Malay race and Islam, Najib could shamelessly rule like a dictator.
True, the declaration of emergency is only valid for 6 months but it can be renewed indefinitely thereafter. Essentially, Najib could use the powerful NSC Act to rule forever because such order cannot be revoked by Lower House (Dewan Rakyat) or Upper House (Dewan Negara) since both houses were dissolved when an election is declared.
So, should Mahathir make another childish agreement the same way Najib and Anwar did back in 2013? More importantly, can Mahathir trust a referee such as former Indonesian vice-president Jusuf Kalla? Absolutely not – and that’s why he went to European Union seeking mediation in case his protégé turned nemesis Najib decides to play dirty upon a defeat.
When a secret 2-hour meeting – between Mahathir and 14 EU ambassadors – held at the residence of Maria Castillo Fernández (EU’s Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Malaysia) was exposed, all hell breaks loose. Representatives from all opposition parties of Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) were present where topics such as EU observers, 1MDB scandal and 14th general election were discussed.
The first person who slammed the meeting was none other than Najib’s cousin, Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. The second person who did the same was Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, calling the meeting as “most unpatriotic,” conveniently ignored the fact that his boss had gone to neighbour Indonesia asking for “interference” about 5 years ago.
Najib son of Razak, of course, was absolutely furious over the secret meeting (25th Jan). A recognition (or rejection for that matter) from European Union, a political and economic union of 28 member states, obviously is more valuable and powerful than an endorsement from Indonesia. Aside requesting for EU observers to prevent cheating from Election Commission and Najib regime, Mahathir also seeks something else.
By dragging E.U. into Malaysia’s 14th general election, Mahathir hopes Najib would think twice before invoking the NSC Act and install himself as a dictator. Mahathir knew without E.U.’s approval of a fair and clean election, the legitimacy of Najib regime would be put to question by at least 28 world leaders from Europe, and that’s a big deal.
But why didn’t Mahathir approach President Donald Trump? That’s because the image of the United States as the leader of democracy has been hugely eroded under Trump administration. Trump doesn’t care about human rights or democracy, let alone climate change. That explains why Trump willingly met Najib, the world’s biggest crook, at the White House last year.
That’s the difference between Anwar Ibrahim and Mahathir Mohamad. Anwar was reckless and quite incompetent for believing an Indonesian leader could be relied upon. Mahathir, on the other hand, is a pragmatic and brilliant strategist who is always two steps ahead of his enemies. A rejection of Najib’s legitimacy would be a huge embarrassment to the crook.
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