1Day Countdown to 13GE: Challenge to Mahathir to a series of seven public debates on his 22 years as fourth Prime Minister

When I started the 100-day countdown daily statements to the 13GE on 1st January 2013, I had not expected that I would have to complete the 100-day series as it was generally expected that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak would have mustered the courage to end his real-life Hamlet agonizing “To Be or Not To Be” during the Chinese New Year in February as to dissolve Parliament for the long-awaited 13th general elections to be held.

But his carefully-planned RM3.5 million Psy and Gangnam Style appearance for the Penang Barisan Nasional Chinese New Year Open House on Feb. 11 went kaput when it proved to be a political and public relations disaster of the first magnitude with tens of thousands of people shouting “Yes, Yes, Yes” to Najib’s first question of “Are You Ready for Psy?” followed by the thunderous and categorical “No, No, No” to Najib’s second question of “Are You Ready for BN?”.

This “No, No, No” episode has captured the imagination of Malaysians and entered the Malaysian political history and folklore – not to mention Najib’s other Psy embarrassments in Penang, like the five-minute futile wait by the Prime Minister and former Prime Minister of the country for Psy to join them to “Loh Yee San” or Psy’s refusal to dance with Najib, Rosmah and Ng Yen Yen for a premier rendition of “Gangnam 1Malaysia Style”.

Today is exactly the 100th Day of the “100-Day Countdown to 13GE” series, the day the Election Commission is to meet to announce the dates for nomination and polling for the 13GE – an acid test whether Najib will honour the Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M)’s Election Integrity Pledge to hold free, fair and clean elections!

This will be a historic general elections, as for the first time in the nation’s 56-year history, Malaysia will demonstrate to the world whether Malaysia qualifies to become a normal democracy (a precondition to Najib’s boast of wanting Malaysia to become “world’s best democracy”), where the most fundamental right of voters to decide who should form the Federal and state government for the next five years will be respected by all political parties and political leaders.

I welcome Najib’s pledge on the dissolution of Parliament on April 3 of a peaceful transition of power in the 13GE, whether at the federal or state level, the first time he had made such a public commitment.

I had repeatedly challenged him in the past four years, both inside and outside Parliament, to make the public commitment that if Umno/Barisan Nasional loses the mandate to form the federal government in Putrajaya, he and UMNO/BN would accept the verdict of the electorate and would assume responsibility to ensure peaceful transition of power from the BN to Pakatan Rakyat government in Putrajaya.

I am glad Najib has finally made such a public commitment and Pakatan Rakyat is equally committed to a peaceful and democratic transition of power whether at the federal or state level.

I notice however that the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, has been conspicuously silent on this issue, failing to give full endorsement to Najib’s pledge of a peaceful transition of power in the 13GE if this be the will and verdict of the 13.3 million electorate.

I particularly mention Mahathir as it is clear from the past 100 days that the longest-serving former Prime Minister has fully come out of the shadows to become the most powerful politician in UMNO – even more powerful than the current Prime Minister and UMNO President Najib – which is why Mahathir could publicly issue the ultimatum that Najib will have to give way to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as Prime Minister if Najib failed to achieve a better results for UMNO/BN than in the 2008 general elections.

Mahathir was not indulging in any empty threat, as he had toppled the former Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah after the 2008 general elections and he would have no hesitation or compunction to do the same to Najib in similar circumstances after the 13GE.

In fact, Mahathir is the man Najib fears most – to the extent that Najib dare not voice any disagreement despite Mahathir’s outrageous statements and claims in the current hustings - and most unforgettable of all, his paeans of praise for the Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali, saying that the country would be saved if there were more people like Ibrahim Ali.

Cleary, if given full liberty, Mahathir would prefer to have Ibrahim Ali as Malaysian Prime Minister than even Najib or Muhyiddin!

From Mahathir’s hyperactivity in the past 100 days, and his enormous influence as the “de facto” Prime Minister whose writ is even more powerful and commanding than that of Najib Razak, the 13th General Election is shaping up to be a double referendum on Najib’s four-year premiership and his national transformation agenda and Mahathir’s 22-year premiership and its host of human rights violations, mega-financial scandals and the across-the-board subversion of independent national institutions like the judiciary, the police and the civil service in the country.

I sincerely urge Mahathir, in his attempt to stamp the Mahathir imprimatur on UMNO in the 13GE, to act as a responsible “elder statesman” and to stop race-baiting and inciting communal sentiments and hatred which he had been doing in the past weeks as it is completely antithetical to his concept of Bangsa Malaysia in Vision 2020.

Unless Mahathir has now completely repudiated and disowned the concept of Bangsa Malaysia and Vision 2020!

For this reason, I challenge Mahathir to a series of seven public debates on his 22 years as the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, just as Najib should not delay any longer to accept the long-standing challenge of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to have a public debate on the Najib premiership.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur