Najib’s call for a strong mandate in next election is asking for a “blank cheque” which previous elections have shown is bad for good governance or a healthy and vibrant democracy leading to more and not less corruption
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Monday): Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday called on Malaysian voters to give the Barisan Nasional Government a strong mandate in the next general election as proof of the people's acceptance of the leadership change in the country and endorsement to the national agenda set by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Najib’s call for a strong mandate in next election is asking for a “blank cheque” which previous elections have shown is bad for good governance or a healthy and vibrant democracy leading to more and not less corruption.
In the 1982 general election 21 years ago, a similar call was made to the Malaysian voters – for a strong mandate to the new Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who had coined the ABC slogan of “Amanah, Bersih and Cekap” for a clean, incorruptible, efficient, people-oriented government to usher in a new era of democracy, press freedom and good governance.
The voters were in an euphoria from the “political honeymoon” with the new Prime Minister and the Barisan Nasional won an unprecedented election victory, securing not only two-thirds parliamentary majority, but exceeding three-quarters, four-fifths and even five-sixths to score a stunning sixth-seventh parliamentary majority by winning 132 of the 154 parliamentary seats, i.e. 85.7 per cent of total parliamentary seats!
It proved to be a very costly mistake for Malaysian democracy and good governance.
The landslide Barisan Nasional election victory in 1982, wrought by the powerful electoral effect of a “political honeymoon” with a new Prime Minister, with the DAP decimated as a parliamentary opposition from 16 MPs to nine MPs (with only six in Peninsular Malaysia) proved to be a blank cheque for over two decades of arrogance of power, resulting in a more undemocratic, unaccountable and opaque Malaysia – where corruption and financial scandals ballooned from tens of millions of ringgit to tens of billions of ringgit, a government with even greater contempt for public opinion, basic democratic freedoms and human rights than previous administrations, to the extent that fundamental institutions and principles of nation-building came under unprecedented attack, whether the doctrine of the separation of powers among the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary resulting in an effete Parliament and a compromised judiciary or the sanctity of the 46-year Merdeka “social contract” of Malaysia as a democratic, secular, multi-racial and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State.
It is precisely because the 22-year Mahathir administration had failed its 1982 general election promises that Abdullah’s pledges in his first hundred days as the fifth Prime Minister for a clean, incorruptible, efficient and people-oriented government, prepared to hear the “truth” from the people, had created such popular resonance and received such spontaneous support!
But can Abdullah succeed where Mahathir had failed – to deliver the promises of a new Prime Minister in his first months in office?
The lesson of the 1982 general election is that the most effective way to ensure that Abdullah deliver his promises of a clean, incorruptible, efficient and people-oriented government which listens to the people is not to give the Barisan Nasional another “blank cheque” in the next general election but to end its unhealthy political hegemony and remove its two-thirds parliamentary majority to ensure a strong, effective and purposive Opposition in Parliament like the DAP committed to a just, equitable, democratic, progressive and prosperous Malaysia.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman