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Thread: Politics: Nervous Dr M tells Najib to hold GE-13 "NOW" before Umno burns all its chances

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Politics: Nervous Dr M tells Najib to hold GE-13 "NOW" before Umno burns all its chances

    Monday, 16 April 2012 07:46

    Nervous Dr M tells Najib to hold GE-13 "NOW" before Umno burns all its chances

    Written by Melissa Lee, Malaysia Chronicle

    Fearing Prime Minister Najib Razak might pull another major U-turn, former premier Mahathir Mohamad has rushed to assure that holding the 13th general election as early as possible - "even now" - was the right decision, as instances of tension and citizens' discontent flare up in the country.

    "Mahathir is now feeling very nervous, even panicky I would say. It is clear the tide won't turn.There is no salvation for Umno-BN and the longer Najib procrastinates, the better the chances for the Opposition to win,"PKR vice president Chua Jui Meng told Malaysia Chronicle..

    Taking care to praise Najib, who has been slammed for ineptness and poor judgement, Mahathir who had previously said it was alright to delay until the very last day - which would be in March 2013 - now changed his tune as it became clear that the longer Najib sat on the decision, the more difficult it would be for their coalition to win.

    "I think it won't be too long into the future because there isn't much time left; we only have until middle of next year. If we think we can win, we can call the election," Mahathir told reporters on Sunday.

    Even NOW is a good time

    The corruption-tainted Mahathir is among those who have most to lose should the ruling Umno-BN coalition crash out to the Pakatan Rakyat led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim in GE-13 - widely forecast to be held by mid-June this year.

    The vindictive Mahathir had withdrawn his support for Umno compatriot, former premier Abdullah Badawi, in the 2008 general election. Such a move helped him to best Badawi in Umno's internal power struggle but it also boosted - to an extent - the Pakatan's chances in wresting 5 of the country's 13 states and denying the BN its long-held two-thirds majority.

    Contrary to expectations, the Pakatan has since grown from strength to strength as Malaysians rejected corruption and plumbed even more for change and reform.

    Conscious of this, the 86-year-old Mahathir is now careful not to rock the BN's boat this time around and has been sending signals in public to the less-astute Najib on when to dissolve Parliament.

    "If the people give us a good support, that's the time to call the election. Even now, it looks good," said Mahathir.

    Bersih 3.0-Himpunan Hijau and students protest

    Since taking over from Abdullah Badawi in 2009, Najib has sent the country on a downtrend economically, socially and politically. Component parties in his Umno-dominated BN coalition have lost further ground, with MCA, Gerakan and MIC facing near-certain annihilation at the ballot boxes.
    Umno itself is widely expected to test its 1999 results where it won only 71 seats in Parliament versus the overall BN tally of 147. In 2008, it won only 79 - a far cry from 2004's 109.

    There is fear that the politically-timid Najib might seize on two key events currently in play to dodge holding GE-13 by mid-year, prompting Mahathir to publicly call for polls to be held as soon as possible.

    The two events are the April 28 Bersih 3.0 rally for free and fair election to be held jointly with Himpunan Hijau 3.0's anti-Lynas rare earth refinery protest, plus a students' demonstration that began on Saturday and which is still continuing. The youths are refusing to leave their Dataran Merdeka venue despite having their tents dismantled by the authorities.

    Bailouts for the rich, toll and loans for the poor

    Amid corruption scandals and billionaire tycoons being allowed to write off huge loans to the tune of billions by the BN government, the students are demanding free tertiary education for all Malaysian citizens .

    They also want the abolishment of study loans under the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN), which commits students to almost a life-time of loan repayment.

    "Tell the PTPTN borrowers why Tajudin's RM589 million debt can be written off but in contrast, they are hunted down," PAS deputy president Mat Sabu had said over the weekend, referring for former Malaysia Airline chief Tajudin Ramli.

    Najib's government has dismissed such calls, and accused those who insisted on free education of being ungrateful and irresponsible, while Mahathir has rushed to blame Anwar for sowing the idea for PTPTN.

    "Anwar was sacked from Umno in 1998 and was jailed until 2004 because of trumped-up charges to stop his political rise. The way PTPTN has been developed was never what Anwar envisioned. It became a millstone because of Mahathir," PKR MP for Batu Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

    "Mahathir wanted to spend the nation's money on mega-projects, hence the tolled roads and students' loans. Nothing was free, the citizens had to pay their own way on basic essentials like transport and education. It was Anwar who wanted financial prudence and fairer wealth distribution and it was exactly because of this - for being their party pooper - that Mahathir and Daim Zainuddin threw him in jail."

    Umno needs to 'rely on vote-rigging' to win GE-13

    In 2004, buoyed by the departure of 'dictator'-leader Mahathir Mohamad, Abdullah Badawi had scored a near landslide for the BN winning 198 seats out of Parliament's 219. Umno's contribution was 109.

    However, partly due to infighting and sniping from Mahathir, which he himself recently admitted, Badawi could only salvage 79 seats for Umno in 2008. The BN as a whole could only wrest 140 out of Parliament's 222 seats, thereby losing the coalition's long-held two-thirds majority.

    In 1999 as a result of Mahathir sacking Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, who was then the Umno deputy president, Umno could only win 71 seats while the BN as a whole took 147 seats out of Parliament's 192.

    "Umno won't be able to perform well with so many scandals going on. There is the RM250 million NFC corruption scandal, Nazri's son's assault case, the Tajudin bailout, Najib's continued endorsement of Shahrizat Jalil despite the NFC case, the bailout of the expressways, Rosmah Mansor's diamond ring - so many dirty and dubious deals," PAS MP for Kuala Krai Hatta Ramli told Malaysia Chronicle.

    "It is no secret that the longer BN delays, the worst are its chances. It can only rely on vote rigging and a falsified electoral roll and this is why it fears April 28, when the people will rally together and demand for clean ad fair elections."

    Malaysia Chronicle

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Umno bullish on snap polls despite Sabah, Sarawak BN call for delay

    By Shannon Teoh
    May 13, 2012

    KUALA LUMPUR, May 13 — The massive congregation of Umno supporters which turned Bukit Jalil Stadium into a sea of red for its 66th anniversary has left the party’s rank-and-file eager for early elections despite Sabah and Sarawak partners calling for Datuk Seri Najib Razak to stay his hand.

    The prime minister has engaged in much fighting talk of late, calling on the crowd of at least 50,000 Friday night to ensure Malaysia is not “destroyed” by “uncivilised enemies” on the back of violence seen emanating from both police and protestors at the April 28 Bersih rally.

    While the Umno president took time yesterday to have breakfast in Bangsar with four Twitter followers and attend a wedding dinner later that same night ahead of a vacation in the next two weeks, party leaders are talking up the likelihood of polls being called by next month.

    A sea of red. — file pic

    Their confidence appears to stem from the belief that their gathering outnumbered that of the opposition-backed rally for free and fair elections.
    Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said that when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad asked his father, Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat, to organise a similar gathering before the 1989 elections, the then information minister could only muster a crowd of about 40,000.

    “Friday was easily double and more than Bersih. We are ready to go. It has always been about getting the machinery ready. The question of timing is not really a Barisan Nasional (BN) concern but that of the opposition,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

    Umno supreme council member Puad Zarkashi was also quoted by various newspapers as saying that Najib “is confidant now is the right time.”
    “What Najib said about asking for an audience with the Agong shows the 13th General Election is near,” the deputy education minister said, referring to Najib’s joke about asking the Agong to dissolve Parliament “tomorrow.”

    Senior Sabah Umno lawmaker Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin, who is also the BN backbenchers’ deputy chief, added that the ruling party is “ready enough” to follow Najib who will lead BN into polls for the first time.

    “I will not be shocked if Parliament is dissolved next week,” he was quoted as saying by Sinar Harian.

    But his state BN colleagues have called for polls to be delayed until the second half of the year, a sentiment echoed by their neighbours in Sarawak.
    They have cited ongoing celebrations for the Keamatan and Gawai Dayak harvest festivals but Sabah BN has also been pushing for a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) into the illegal immigrant problem there for months now.

    Federal Cabinet ministers who hail from the state have said such an inquiry “will have little value” if announced after elections and that the issue puts their “political lives on the chopping block”.

    “We heard that Parliament could be dissolved any time now. But we feel it is better for it to be done after Kaamatan so as not to disrupt the celebrations,” Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) information chief Datuk Johnny Mositun was quoted as saying by The Star today.

    PBS is BN’s largest Sabah-based party, and has been a leading voice, along with United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) president Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, in calling for the RCI to be held before polls.

    The newspaper also reported Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri James Masing as saying BN would not fare well should polls be held next month.

    Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, a supreme council member of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), which is the mainstay of Sarawak BN, also said that “Najib wants to solve all problems well first.”

    “I think the earliest will be early July before Ramadan or after Aidilfitri in September,” the Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker was quoted as saying by Sinar Harian.

    Ibrahim Suffian of the Merdeka Center said it’s not known if Umno’s grassroots will unify behind Najib. — file pic

    But analysts told The Malaysian Insider that “the internal momentum has peaked” for the ruling coalition after riding on the back of political reforms and the RM500 cash handout to poor households under the Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) scheme.

    “The thinking has always been to hold it before Ramadan. By September, it will be too far and you cannot, for example, repeal the Internal Security Act twice,” political scientist Ong Kian Ming said.

    But Ong and Ibrahim Suffian, of independent pollsters Merdeka Center, also said the turnout has “minimal electoral impact” and Umno must be wary of the middle ground which will not be swayed by mere speeches.

    “Umno’s grassroots know this is a critical election for their parties and their own individual careers. The question is whether they will be taken in by the message to unify behind Najib. There is still the belief that Umno just can’t lose,” Ibrahim added.

    Umno supreme council member Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah also told The Malaysian Insider “the May 11 assembly is a demonstration that Umno is able to do what is needed when required.”

    “Machinery wise, Umno is fully prepared for GE13. But a recent survey showed 30 per cent of voters are undecided, bigger than in previous surveys.

    “Most respondents are reluctant to openly say they will vote for the opposition so Umno-BN must be very cautious of the middle ground,” the deputy higher education minister said.

    Bloomberg had cited last month several unnamed government officials as saying that June 3 is the proposed date for what is likely to be the tightest contest in Malaysian electoral history.

    But the Umno president will be overseas at various times throughout this month and BN sources told The Malaysian Insider July is a likelier date before the Ramadan fasting month begins on July 19.

    Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim also told The Malaysian Insider he would not hold elections until the second half of the year, which would deny Najib the chance to win back the country’s richest state and help cement his hold on power.

    Observers say the Pekan MP needs to improve on Election 2008, during which BN lost a record 82 federal seats and five state governments and only a return to its customary two-thirds majority of Parliament would guarantee his survival.

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