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Speech (2) by Lim Kit Siang at the meeting of DAP State Secretaries, Organising and Publicity Secretaries at Crystal Crown Hotel, Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 12th July 2009 at 11 am: 

Will Najib call for general elections in November this year if he could crank up his popularity rating to 80 to 85%?

I am quite intrigued by the following Sunday Star report “11 goodies at 11.11am on July 11” on Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Hundred Day Address as Prime Minister yesterday, viz:

KUALA LUMPUR: It was the Prime Minister’s 100th day in office but it was the number 11 that took prominence.

His first 100 days fell on July 11. He announced 11 people-friendly measures, starting his speech at 11.11am.

Two minutes before that, Najib was already on stage to deliver his speech.

He smiled when the master of ceremony politely called on him to hang on for a while because, said the MC in jest, the speech text had gone missing.

At exactly 11.11am, Najib started delivering his 50-minute speech.

It would appear that “11” is Najib’s favourite or even magic number, just as it is known that “13” is the favourite number of former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

If Najib is so enamoured with the number “11”, is it likely that he might call the next general elections in November this year?

Is this so impossible? I do not think so. When to call the next general elections to secure his credibility and legitimacy as Prime Minister must be the foremost question in the minds of Najib and his strategists since April 3 when he took over from Abdullah – whether to call for early general elections or to serve out the rest of the term, which is less than four years!

Najib has been able to celebrate his Hundred Days as Prime Minister with a popularity rating of 65% although he polled a dismal 45% a month after he became Prime Minister and a lowly 42 per cent just before taking over the premiership from Tun Abdullah on April 3, 2009.

Chalking up a jump of 20% percentage points in his popularity rating in six weeks is quite an achievement, and if Najib could crank up his popularity rating in the next two months to achieve 80 to 85 per cent popularity rating, he would be sorely tempted to dissolve Parliament to call for early general elections – even in November this year as he should know that the longer he waits, the greater the likelihood of his popularity rating starting to plummet especially if he cannot deliver on his catalogue of promises like his predecessor.

In four short years, Abdullah’s popularity rating plunged from an stratospheric high of over 95% in 2004 to 45 per cent in 2008, swinging from an unprecedented Barisan Nasional general election triumph winning over 91 per cent of the parliamentary seats to an unprecedented Barisan Nasional debacle losing two-thirds parliamentary majority as well as five state governments!

Najib is not confident he has majority support, not only among the people but even among Umno and Barisan Nasional MPs.

This is why he dared not ask for a motion of confidence in the recent Parliament, as he is not sure how many Umno and Barisan Nasional MPs would vote against such a confidence motion in him – as it could range from a handful to sufficient numbers to despatch him from being the Prime Minister to become the Parliamentary Opposition Leader!

With the boost in his popularity rating in the recent Merdeka Centre poll from 45% to 65%, is Najib confident enough to ask for a confidence motion when Parliament reconvenes on Oct. 19?

Or would he seriously consider calling for general elections in November if he could crank up his popularity rating with a further slew of goodies, which he knows are ephemeral in effect and cannot have sustainable impact after one or two years?

These are the questions which have been haunting and hounding Najib and his advisers and will continue to haunt and hound them until they decide on when to call the 13th general elections in Malaysia.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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