Will Najib go for full term?


Malaysia-Today – Do you really think it is about the ballot box?

RPK’s latest post carries a very provocative title. Nonetheless he has a few good points which (coincidentally, would you believe it?) I share and would have posted last night but alas I was too busy. However, I have to state that my thrust would have been different to his point. Thus, I won’t follow RPK’s provocative path wakakaka.

In any Westminster-styled democracy, a majority ruling party has the legitimate right to govern the country for the full term prescribed in the constitution, whether the term is 5 or (in the case of Australia) 3 years.

There seems to a current fallacy that Najib is cheating the voters because he has thus far refused to call or ignored the calls for an election now (though there are now hints he might do it in November, this year of course wakakaka).

On a related issue, though not central to my post topic, there is also a fallacy that Britain does not have a written constitution. It does, except the articles (rules) are not written in one convenient ‘book’ like ours, with all its rules (or articles) in one single tome.

Magna Carta

The Brits have their constitutional rules scattered all over, among the pages of the Magna Carta, Petition of Rights, Bill of Rights, Act of Settlement, Parliament Acts, Representation of the People Act, case laws such as Case of Proclamations, each written at various stages in their history stretching from around 1215 (Magna Carta) to 1969 (Representation of the People Act), over a period of some 750 years. And no Pakistani legal expert helped, thank you, wakakaka.

Anyway, fast forward to the present, and the topic to be discussed.

As we read almost everyday, there have been condemnations (or at best, criticisms) of Najib for ‘refusing’ to call for an early general election when the actual 5-year term for the BN as the ruling party will only expire some time in March 2013.

Understandably, most of the condemnations have been from PKR where an impatient and at the same time optimistic Anwar Ibrahim believes the tide has swung in his favour. His party and supporters have been conducting psy-war against Najib, attempting to goad Ah Jib Gor into an early election.

Understandably too, Najib appears to be going for the full term, or at least not dancing to Anwar’s tune, because it’s obvious he (Najib) has assessed BN will be at a disadvantage if he were to call for an election now.

And why would he, when the more time he has, the more monkey tricks he can bring about, wakakaka. Alas, it’s his prime ministerial constitutional right.

Now, why did I want to (coincidentally) write about the full term for an elected government, though I had already mentioned Najib’s prerogative to go for the full 5 years in a couple of previous posts?

Two recent events persuaded me to.

One – Down in Australia, PM Julia Gillard has just stated very clearly her government will go the full 3-year term BUT in exhibiting her prime ministerial prerogative a la Westminster-styled democracy, reserves the right to call for an early election, even if ‘early’ means a month or two before the run-out date.

In fact, recently I read in the newspapers downunder that Australia’s Constitution allows a ruling term to be slightly over the so-called maximum 3-year term, of course by only a few weeks for some administrative reasons. I am not sure whether the Malaysian Constitution provides for that.

Thus Najib has the same prime ministerial prerogatives to run his government for the full term of 5 years, or if he wants to, sneak in an early request to HM the Agong to dissolve parliament. I have a different view to RPK in that the Agong doesn’t have much say, as he ‘has to’ heed the PM’s ‘advice’ to dissolve parliament, more so under Malaysian constitutional terms.

Two – The other reason which suggests to me to blog on this issue had come as a total surprise to me. Actually I was mildly shocked when 3 days ago, I read Free Malaysia Today’s Delay polls and risk punishment.

If it had been Anwar who said that, I would have accepted that he’s correct in pushing for the election a.s.a.p. because the BN is currently in a politically precarious position. If it had been Pak Haji Hadi Awang, Lim Guan Eng or even my hero Karpal Singh, it would be normal politics.

But when I read that it was another of my heroes, Ambiga Sreenevasan, who warned Najib that his continuing dilly dallying in calling for an election could prove to be perilous for him and BN, I was gobsmacked.

FMT reported:

She said that it would not come as a surprise if the voters, including the fence-sitters, punished him for this feet-dragging in the next polls.

“I understand it is the Westminster system and it is the prerogative of the prime minister. But a good government should be prepared to take on the election and not be afraid to set a date,” she told FMT.

“We have been in election mode since he [Najib] took over and everyone has been pumped up. He drops hints [about the polls] and that is irresponsible. You don’t toy with people’s feelings.

“People are fed up! They can’t plan things like going on holidays and so forth. Furthermore, it affects investor confidence.

“That’s why I say it is irresponsible. If this is how a government is going to play with the election date, then it would be best to have a fixed date for polling,” she added.

Obviously Ambiga knows her laws as she said “I understand it is the Westminster system and it is the prerogative of the prime minister.” So why did she see it necessary to warn Najib into an early election. I don’t know then, and I don’t know now.