The formation of the Majlis Perundingan NGO Melayu (MPM) has precipitated an end game for Najib. His options in preparing for the 13th General Election — if he is interested in one — is now limited to the following:
- Capitulate to the demands of MPM and strengthen his and UMNO’s credentials as a Malay ultra party;
- Take decisive but authoritarian actions to head off rising pressure from MPM ala Operasi Lalang (read accounts of Operasi Lalang here and here or view here);
- Be toppled from within UMNO.
Najib has painted himself into a corner as he cannot be supportive of both 1Malaysia and the demands of MPM, which, in a nutshell, is a coalition of Malay opportunists, supremacists and select Islamic fundamentalists. A new logic to Malay rights was put forward by MPM — as stated by its spokesperson — was that UMNO could not serve the interests of Malays as it was within a coalition with non–Malays. This contradicts the consensus view that non–Malays are deserting Barisan Nasional due to the rise of Malay Supremacy in UMNO.
Najib is taking Malaysia into very dangerous territory. Najib’s relentless attempts to break-up Pakatan Rakyat has so far proven to be limited – with defections to UMNO (BN friendly independents) mainly from PKR’s Malay Members of Parliament with shady backgrounds while his attacks on Anwar Ibrahim are radicalising Malaysians, especially Anwar’s significant number of die-hard supporters. The specter of racial and religious violence is now a clear and present danger: thanks to Najib’s hands-off approach and tacit support from other senior members of UMNO to extremist groups such as PERKASA and now MPM. They claim that Malay rights are being challenged but in reality the UMNO led government is failing to uphold the rule of law and also demonstrates outright contempt for the legitimate rights of Malaysians (read examples on the caning of Muslim women, the Allah issue, the oil cash payment issue)
Najib’s best strategy — if he is actually interested in saving Malaysia — will be one from outside the box: to form at least a short-term unity government with Pakatan Rakyat. Such a government would need to agree to the following principles: (i) to head off rising religious and racial tensions, (ii) to stabilise the economy and a set date for the 13th General Election – where the people can decide on who should lead the country. Of course, Najib will have to revert to the rule of law and allow democratic process to take place. He will however have the support of Pakatan Rakyat and Malaysians.
Najib may take the easy option set by previous UMNO led administrations such as declaring Emergency Rule after ethnic riots believed to be propagated by UMNO (May 13) or Operasi Lalang to consolidate his power. However, a Unity Government with the “Rakyat” to eventually decide who they want as Government would actually be in the best interest of Malaysia and Najib, together with Anwar will go down in history as returning Malaysia to a democratic trajectory.