Thursday, September 18, 2008

Badawi's refusal to meet the reason for September 16 delay?

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim said today he had signed up more than 31 defectors needed to form a new government and called on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (image) not to implement emergency rule to thwart a takeover. [Malaysiakini, 16/9/08]

Despite all the hype, there were no waves of defections from the east, no signs of a government takeover and no mass exodus of Cabinet members. Was the thought of forming a new government on September 16 a mirage, just like Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi had coined it? Or simply an empty promise made by the Opposition to woo more supporters?

Badawi had even called the September 16 dream a "political lie" despite receiving a request letter from the Opposition to negotiate face-to-face for a smooth transition of power. However, Badawi denied that the letter had anything to do with the transfer of power but was just a general notice of the country's current situation.

On September 16, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (image) announced that his side had enough numbers to topple Badawi's regime and form a new federal government. It was understood that 31 MPs have penned their signatures on paper, agreeing to switch their allegiance. However, Anwar still refused to reveal the names of the defectors and said he would meet the Prime Minister to discuss the transition of power first.

"We've not given any ultimatum to Abdullah. We've said it is of national importance, it is incumbent and urgent for any sitting prime minister to respond positively in the interest of the nation and not just to appease the upheavals and turmoil within UMNO," he responded when asked if Badawi has a deadline to meet the Opposition leaders. [Malaysiakini, 16/9/08]
Regarding the names of the defectors, Anwar said he would only reveal them when Badawi agrees to meet with the Opposition entourage for negotiations. The Opposition leader believed that this was the best way to go about in order to protect the defecting MPs from being harassed by the government. He told reporters,
"Questions are raised on who and where are they. We name them now and they get harassed immediately. So, I'm telling you now that I will choose to confide in the prime minister. And if he wants the list I will show the list in the meeting. Until the right opportune moment, we can't declare. We know how the system operates. One Teresa Kok in detention is enough." [Malaysiakini, 16/9/08]
However, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi refused to meet with Anwar and the other Opposition leaders. His declination to negotiate certainly made matters worse for the Opposition who was planning to reach an agreement with the current government by September 16. On the other hand, Badawi challenged Anwar to reveal the names first before heading to the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya to meet him.
"If he has the names, he should show the entire country. Everyone wants to know," Badawi told reporters in Kepala Batas, Penang. [The Malaysian Insider, 16/9/08]
With both parties refusing to give in, it was a classic case of "pay first, get product later" or "get product first, pay later" type of dilemma. Either way, delaying the September 16 plans would only serve as an advantage for Badawi's government as they aim to accuse Anwar for making empty promises.

International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (image) told the media that there was no need for the Prime Minister to meet with Anwar; calling it a trap set by the influential Opposition leader to mislead the public. The minister who had recently called on the Prime Minister to opt for an early retirement was an unexpected supporter of Badawi's refusal to meet with the Opposition leaders.
"If he meets the prime minister, with the media coverage, people would think he must be right. I am not in the position to tell the prime minister not to meet, but I think it is not necessary. I don't think the prime minister would walk into the trap laid by Anwar," he explained. [The Malaysian Insider, 16/9/08]

Badawi's refusal to negotiate had prompted the Opposition to turn to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for royal intervention in the formation of a new government. Parti Keadilan Information Chief Tian Chua (image) announced that the Opposition will seek an audience with the monarch within the next 24 to 48 hours. However, Tian Chua was also quick to stressed that seeking the intervention from the King was their last resort as Malaysia has always been a democratic country and the Opposition would honour that.

"Like we have said, the Opposition have enough MPs now to form a new government. As Anwar have announced, we have more than 31 MPs crossing over to our side. However, we will try our very best not to involve the Agong," Tian Chua said in a press conference. [Malaysiakini, 16/9/08]
Despite of Badawi's ignorance for a proper dialogue, Anwar said the Opposition was "not in a rush" to seize power from the Barisan Nasional government as he wants to ensure national stability and a peaceful transition of power.
"He (Badawi) is currently under pressure from within his party (UMNO) and we should give him more time to consider this in the interest of the country and guarantee a smooth and orderly transition. This is one of our main considerations so that any moves made will be constitutional," Anwar explained. [Malaysiakini, 16/9/08]
September 16 may have passed with no signs of a change in government but the hope of a better Malaysia continues to burn amongst the people. Though Badawi will soon learn that preventing the inevitable is a fool's errand, many Malaysians are still cautiously keeping their fingers crossed.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Anonymous Says:
    The Coward Flip Flop is nothing but indeed a Coward Flip Flop and now intended to cling on to power via hiding behind the use of ISA knowing fully very well that his Government has technically collapsed.
    What is the big deal in Swapping the already defunct Portfolios from a corrupted incompetent Flip Flop to another corrupted incompetent C4 cheats as tyro Finance Minister, do you think there could be any immediate improvement to the lives of Malaysians, could there be any relief to the hardships suffered by the people of Malaysia owing the unwarranted Oil Price Hike fiasco with this swap??? It could just be worse off as from the frying pan into the fire???

  2. pravin said...

    Anwar has only made claims that he has 31 members to back him to oust the current government but if he had 31 members he would already be running the government by now. He pointed out that the power struggle would be solved by peaceful negotiations rather than forceful takeover. But as a former finance minister, he should realize this state of uncertainty is really bad for Malaysian Economy. The ringgit value is going down due to unstable political situation in the country. Is it not better to use force (if he has 31 members backing him in the first place) to take over the government than wait 2 more weeks. If will only increase the burden of the people as we are the ones who would suffer the inevitable economy setback due to this instability.

  3. Jia said...

    Well I think that Anwar probably has very valid reasons behind his cautious approach.

    It is possible that the 31 MP that had agreed to switch their allegiance are non-Malays. Should a transition of power occur now, and the PR takes Putrajaya, we would have more non-Malays in the ruling coalition as compared to the Malays. This would allow UMNO to feel vindicated in making claims that supporting the opposition would result in the Malays loosing political power.

    While we all hate race-based politics, and know that we would ultimately still have a Malay PM in Anwar and therefore the Malays would not have not lost political power at all, there's likely to be as many Malaysians relying on mainstream media for news who would buy into UMNO's scaremongering tactics. This would play into UMNO's hand since it would make their job of stirring racial sentiments much easier and would probably even provide them with an excuse to use the emergency ruling to prevent the transition of government for good.

    So while the political uncertainty could affect our economy, the impact would certainly not be as great as it would be should riots ensue and the emergency ruling is put into action.