JULY 14 — Whether you call it a Freudian slip or not, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s admission that he repealed the Internal Security Act (ISA) because “it did not benefit BN politically” couldn’t come at worse time.
With the general election looming so close, the prime minister has indeed laid bare his “real self” to the entire nation.
With that unsolicited confession, Najib has in fact committed the greatest blunder of his political career. Faced with such a predicament, political leaders — especially heads of state — can always resort to blaming others, not the least on misreporting by the media. With this one, he has been checkmated because he was heard and quoted verbatim.
But what is so wrong about it, you might wonder.
Well, there is hardly anything right about that statement. As to its wrongs, that will make up an endless list.
Firstly, the draconian nature of the ISA needs no further elaboration. The antiquated law has always been looked upon with scorn and utter disdain. The untold agony it has inflicted on all its victims will never go away and shall remain for eternity.
Despite its selective and blatant abuse, the power-that-be have always insisted that this obsolete piece of legislation was never used to secure or advance the political interest of the ruling party.
But, alas and behold, it takes none other than the sixth premier, the one who has spoken so much about reform and democracy, to speak the truth!
All efforts at dressing up Najib and his administration by highly-paid, big-name consultants have come to almost naught, now.
To commit to saying that the ISA was repealed because “it did not benefit BN politically” but in fact benefited more of those detained, is both deplorable and uncalled for. That this statement is suicidal to Najib could only be proven in due time.
But more importantly for now, Najib’s gaffe seems to amply vindicate the accusation by Mark MacKinnon who, in an article for the Canadian Globe and Mail magazine, included the prime minister in a list of the new autocrats of the 21st century.
MacKinnon also labelled Najib a “false democrat”, the definition being leaders who “hold elections but have no intention of giving up power” and their “serious political rivals are jailed and their parties are outlawed on legal technicalities.”
With those parameters clearly spelt out, one is reminded as to why Najib repealed the ISA. Is his litany of legislative reforms meant to increase civil liberties? Regrettably, no!
One wishes that Najib at least invoked and paid lip-service to the very notion of universal justice and fundamentally liberty, as the underpinning of his repealing the ISA.
Najib’s infamous statement about defending Putrajaya at all cost “even if our bodies are crushed and our lives lost” now flies in the face of all that. The very many instances of Najib’s paradoxes, double-speak and flip-flops amply demonstrate the trait of a “false democrat.”
One is immediately reminded of his Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 that replaces the ISA, which is now ready to be gazetted after being bulldozed through Parliament. The SOA arguably is lot more repressive and draconian, in some respects, than the original ISA.
Similarly, one recalls the Peaceful Assembly Act is in actual fact a law that disallows peaceful assembly. The opposition leader and other Pakatan leaders have been charged by invoking the provisions of this assembly law after the Bersih 3.0
Najib’s commitment to a new political landscape should be a visible one. Sure and convincing evidence of his earnestness for reform will be truly in the class of a true democrat.
In the midst of all the protests, Najib should have shown a willingness to engage and the ability to accommodate legitimate dissent.
Najib, unfortunately, does not have what it takes to undertake genuine change. Najib’s intention to repeal the Sedition Act has been met with contempt and derision by many, not the least by opposition and civil society groups. Their revulsion is understandable.
Similarly, his performance in the field of economic reform and good governance has been equally dismal.
The Land Transport Commission has announced that up to RM160 billion could be spent on railway infrastructure projects in the country, making Malaysia a tempting destination for international engineering firms.
But would a leadership plagued with crony practices and rent-seeking behaviour augur well with international bidders? For that matter, would change ever be possible if the leaders themselves are the stumbling blocks for change? Leaders whose only concern is clinging to power at all cost.
Is a regime change the only way forward to rid Malaysia of corrupt leaders who have brought a systemic rot into our beloved country?
Time will tell and the dissolution of Parliament is surely the first step of a cascade of events that will bring about a regime change worthy of Malaysia!
Hidup Rakyat! Hidup Malaysia!
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist