“Even if our bodies are crushed and our lives lost, brothers and sisters, whatever happens, we must defend Putrajaya,” Malaysiakini reported Najib Razak, President of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) as saying, at the 61st UMNO General Assembly. He also happens to be the Prime Minister of multi-racial Malaysia.

In his hour-long speech, Najib even warned of the possibility of ‘racial cleansing’ such as in Rwanda and Bosnia if unnamed parties continued to challenge and debate the preferential status now enjoyed by the Malays.

What I am saying is not surprising. In the 20th century, we have seen cases of punishment without trial in the United States, the holocaust tragedy in Europe, the slaughter of Palestinians in the Middle East and the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Rwanda. Imagine, what is the outcome, if every generation of Malaysians question the social contract which were agreed upon by their forefathers.

[Note that the ‘Social Contract’ – the short hand for explaining Malay preferential treatment – has been bastardised by UMNO leaders over the years. The current UMNO leaders understanding of the social contract – as in Ketuanan Melayu – was created only in the mid 1980s, and does not reflect at all the understanding of Malaysia’s founding fathers.]

The speech brought immediate condemnation from various sections of society. Even sober UMNO supporters found the speech distasteful (such as here).

What happened to Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia? Is this the man who talked about 1Malaysia? Is this the man who offered the United States help to address Islamophobia? Is this the man who at the United Nations called for “the Global Movement of the Moderates?

Najib has made clear, in no uncertain terms, his intention to ensure that UMNO retains control of Malaysia, at all costs: “even if our bodies are crushed and our lives are lost.”

This only strengthens the arguments from several quarters that UMNO is unlikely to adhere to electoral outcomes should it go against them. Over the years, UMNO has used extra-constitutional means to stay in power. However, it never needed to use military force as any form of opposition (not only from opposition parties but also civil society and citizens in general) were always neutralised through coercive laws before it could ever mount a credible challenge through the ballot box.

Since 8 March 2008 this has changed. UMNO knows now that it cannot rely on the ballot box to legitimise its regime.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s most recent Malaysia Country Report has singled out intrigues within UMNO and the ruling party’s determination to stay in power at all costs as the biggest threats to political stability in Malaysia (see here). Raja Petra Kamarudin had also recently alleged that the BN government has been purchasing arms through covert means (such as here).

In an earlier posting, I had questioned whether Malaysians could trust Najib. The answer should be crystal clear now. The 13th General Election in Malaysia — expect it to be the dirtiest ever.