77-Day Countdown to 13GE – The last weapon to save UMNO/BN coalition from being sent to Opposition benches is to force a split in Pakatan Rakyat by driving apart PAS and DAP

The last weapon to save UMNO/Barisan Nasional coalition from being sent to the Opposition benches in Parliament in the 13th general elections is to force a split in Pakatan Rakyat by driving apart PAS and DAP.

It is a reflection of the degree of desperation of UMNO/BN leaders, propagandists and spin doctors about their prospects of retaining Putrajaya in the 13GE which is looming ever nearer that they have revealed their hand by publicly putting in black-and-white their hope and strategy.

One of the chief UMNO/BN media spin doctors yesterday postulated that “Pakatan parties may go own way”, on the ground that “With chances of capturing Putrajaya slim, Pas and DAP may want to just wrest the states they fancy”.

He fancied:

“IS there a case to be made that DAP and Pas may be privately ditching the idea of taking over Putrajaya and are preparing themselves to keep the spoils of March 2008 instead?

“DAP, for instance, may want to be the biggest opposition group in the land, with one or two states in its hands, and Pas with its continued hold on Kelantan.

“This is especially so when the prognosis of Pakatan Rakyat’s performance for the next general election is generally believed to be less sterling than what supporters are made to believe.

“Apart from hardcore and partisan supporters, sober political observers, from all sides of the political divide, share a rather common reading that the chances of Pakatan taking over Putrajaya in the 13th general election are rather slim. It is not impossible, but it is slim.

“Or, to put it another way, there is a strong likelihood that Barisan Nasional will be returned to power at the federal level.”

It is the UMNO/BN leaders, propagandists and spin doctors who are victims of their own fantasy for independent and “sober political observers” think that although UMNO/BN at present enjoys an edge, there is a fair chance the table will be turned during the campaign period resulting in Pakatan Rakyat taking over Putrajaya in the 13th general election.

We don’t have to refer to the “high probability” forecast by the suspended Bank Islam chief economist Azrul Azwar Ahmad Tajuddin at the Singapore Regional Outlook Forum early this month that Pakatan Rakyat was likely to form a federal government with a majority from eight to 28 seats – with Barisan Nasional likely to win only between 97 and 107 of the 222 parliamentary seats in 13GE.

This is because the Johore Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Osman gave almost the same scenario as Azrul a few days before the Singapore Regional Outlook Forum, conceding publicly that Pakatan Rakyat could win Putrajaya in the 13GE, although he warned that the most the Pakatan Rakyat could win would be a slim majority of 5% to 10% of the parliamentary seats or a majority from 12 to 22 seats.

The UMNO/BN leaders, propagandists and spin doctors cannot be unaware of the results of recent different opinion polls which generally point to Pakatan Rakyat gathering increasing support and strength in the run-up to the 13GE, with the potential and capability to turn the table during the election campaign.

Three days ago, the University of Malaya Centre for Democracy and Elections (Umcedel) director Mohamad Redzuan said that it will be “impossible” for the BN to get a two-thirds parliamentary majority, expecting BN to maintain the status quo in the 13GE.

The results of the latest Umcedel polls conducted between Dec 26 and Jan 11, however, showed much bleaker prospects for BN in the 13GE, with the difference between those who believe BN can beat PR in the 13GE slashed in 12 – 14 months from 25% in Dec. 2011 to 5% in January 2013.

Firstly, respondents who believe that Pakatan Rakyat can take Putrajaya in the 13GE have steadily climbed from 18% in December 2011 to 21% in April 2012 to 30% in Sept. 2012 and 37% in Jan 2013.

In contrast, respondents who believe that Barisan Nasional can win the 13GE had fluctuated from 43% in Dec. 2011 to 49% in April 2012 to 44% in Sept. 2012 and 42% in Jan 2013.

Respondents undecided or unsure who could win the 13GE fell from 39% in Dec. 2011 to 30 per cent in April 2012 and 26% in Sept 2012 and 21% in Jan 2013.

All that is needed for PR to beat BN in the race to Putrajaya is to win over more than five per cent of the undecided or unsure respondents, which stands at 21% in January 2013.

Furthermore, the latest Umcedel survey also shows that Najib and Anwar Ibrahim are running neck-to-neck in popularity, with a one percent point separating Najib at 43 per cent and Anwar Ibrahim’s 42 per cent as the “most qualified to be prime minister”.

The Umcedel survey has confirmed the recent Merdeka Centre opinion poll in the last fortnight of December which found that Najib’s popularity rating has dropped to the lowest level for the whole year – 63% in December 2012 as compared to 69% in February 2012 – while only 52 per cent of voters say that the country is heading in the right direction, the lowest since May 2010.

The former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, had better poll ratings before the March 2008 general elections than Najib on the eve of the 13th general elections but that did not save the Abdullah premiership.

Abdullah’s popularity rating plunged from a high of 91% after the 2004 general election to 61% in December 2007 (which is still higher than Najib’s popularity rating of 52% in December 2012) while 63% of the voters felt that the country was heading in the right direction in December 2007 ( as compared to 52% under Najib in December 2012).

Although Najib’s approval rating has plunged to the lowest for the whole of last year, Merdeka Centre also reported that the level of dissatisfaction has reached the highest level in Najib’s four-year premiership, at 30% as compared to 28% in October 2012 and 16% in May 2009.

Also noteworthy is Merdeka Centre’s finding that while Najib’s approval rating has slid to 63 percent, his administration and Barisan Nasional has trailed further behind at 47 per cent and 45 per cent respectively.

Under these circumstances, UMNO/BN leaders, propagandists and spin doctors are just whistling in the dark when they strike the stance and adopt the posture of supreme confidence of not only winning, but winning big, in the 13GE – by conjuring up the fantasy that Pakatan Rakyat will split with the pull-out of DAP and PAS, and thereby awarding UMNO/BN a virtual walk-over in the next polls.

We must expect UMNO/BN to escalate their politics of lies and falsehoods, by intensifying their dastardly campaign on the one hand telling the Malays and Muslims the falsehood that PAS is a puppet of DAP while disseminating the lies among the Chinese that DAP is only a stooge of PAS – a completely self-contradictory, double-faced and dishonest strategy.

Whatever our differences in Pakatan Rakyat, and DAP, PKR and PAS have differences or there will not be three component parties in Pakatan Rakyat but only one political party merging the three into one, all three of us are committed to the common objectives as laid down in the Pakatan Rakyat Common Policy Framework, Buku Jingga and the various PR Joint Declarations and Policy Statements.

We foreswear the politics of hegemony, racial hatred, religious bigotry, corruption and cronyism.

We are committed to uphold the fundamental features of the Constitution, the principles of justice, freedom, human rights, good governance, an all-out war against corruption, cronyism and abuses of power so as to build a united, harmonious, competitive, prosperous and progressive Malaysia where every Malaysian can hold his or her head high as a Malaysian anywhere in the world.

Malaysians must not therefore allow UMNO/BN to succeed in their Machiavellian politics of lies and falsehoods, irresponsibly playing the race and religious cards, to wreck the Pakatan Rakyat chance of ushering change in 13GE, where for the first time in the nation’s 55 years, there will be a Federal Government of the people, by the people and for the people in Putrajaya to open a new page of Malaysian nation-building – the second phase of Merdeka to free Malaysians from our local oppressors.

DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur
Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 24th January 2013