Malaysians had a good laugh when the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) declared on Monday that the US$ 700 million (RM 2.6 billion) channeled into Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal accounts were a donation from the Middle East and not from strategic investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). People made jokes about it online and in private conversations.
Really, it is quite funny. So, who gives donations of billions for free? Was it a personal donation? If so, what did the donor get in return? Nothing for giving away billions? If it were for Umno, why didn’t it go into Umno’s accounts? Were there some other side deals connected with 1MDB? The questions are endless and people are asking, but answers are not forthcoming.
The government spin may be true but as Malaysians not in the know, we don’t know if it is true or not true. We just don’t know the truth. It seems to me that the government and Umno leadership have lost credibility over 1MDB. Nothing they say seems to convince.
Instead, stocks are sinking, the RM is declining against the US dollar and more repressive laws are being considered (A newly-installed Cabinet minister wants greater monitoring of social media conversations (also mooted by Najib) and has suggested registering portals). We are in very shaky ground.
Some Umno members have called for an earlier party general assembly — which was postponed — to elect the top leadership. That might be necessary for the leadership to get a fresh mandate from the grassroots.
I also believe that the government needs a fresh new mandate from the people. Only the people can resolve the ongoing competition between the incumbent ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and the opposition. The political instability resulting from it is going to go on until the opposition wins. Everyone knows that the Umno-led BN is not going to rule in perpetuity. The question is when will the opposition take over.
Many felt that the BN would lose the last general election. But, contrary to predictions, they won, narrowly. The question now is whether the opposition will win the next general elections. That, again, depends on the people.
Both sides have a 50-50 chance of winning. Although BN has an advantage with more experienced leaders, the Parti Keadilan Rakyat(PKR)-led opposition is not that far behind. Opposition parties ruling Selangor, Penang and Kelantan for two terms would have given their leaders some experience in governance. In terms of leaders, both sides will have to make do with the available crop. What, I believe, will tip the balance is a lineup of leaders of integrity.
It is unlikely that a general elections will be called soon, because it might be disadvantageous to BN. But, I think, that is the only solution to restoring political stability. The people have to decide who they want to lead this nation in this period of time. If the opposition can present a united front with a lineup of leaders with integrity, my feeling is that they will win.
There may not be significant changes in the opposition’s first term of office. But, there will be political stability. With some experience, up-and-coming leaders will begin to show up. Real changes will come after that and we Malaysians will finally have a choice as to who can best represent us.