Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ambiga: Four ‘good’ reasons, my foot!

RK Anand
 | March 28, 2013
The Bersih chief dismisses the four reasons given by the Star's group editor-in-chief for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's delay in dissolving Parliament.
KUALA LUMPUR: In a comment piece published on the front-page of the Star today, the MCA-owned daily’s group editor-in-chief Wong Chun Wai stated four reasons for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s feet-dragging on the dissolution of Parliament.
However, Bersih co-chairperson S Ambiga is not convinced with the four “good” reasons, which were:
  • A caretaker government cannot enter into agreements at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (Lima).
  • Finishing touches to some projects and programmes.
  • Barisan Nasional’s candidates’ list not finalised.
  • Impossible at the moment for politicians to campaign freely in Lahad Datu.
Commenting on the first reason cited, Ambiga told FMT that it is not a licence to dig into the public coffers to embark on a spending spree.
“Lima contracts were all foreseeable. If this was an aim, then why lead the public on a merry ride and threaten to dissolve Parliament for more than a year?” she asked.
Ambiga stressed that it is morally wrong to extend the dissolution date on this premise, adding that the move smacked of utter desperation.
“The way they [the incumbent government] are spending suggests that they are not certain of returning to power. And that is the whole point of a caretaker government: they should not make any contracts which the next incoming government would be bound by; you must uphold the status quo.
“It is wrong to rush into contracts when it is very close to the caretaker period,” she added.
As for Wong’s second point, Ambiga argued that putting the final touches on projects and programmes is also something that was foreseeable in the past.
“This once again suggests that they are not confident. It seems that for the first time, there is a confidence crisis [in BN] with regard to retaining Putrajaya.
“However, your nervousness does not justify spending the rakyat’s money so close to the election and for keeping us on hold regarding the election date,” she said.
‘Automatic dissolution is shameful’
On BN still finalising its list of candidates, the Bersih chairperson dismissed this as the weakest possible excuse.
Ambiga said the list has to be finalised before any general election, and since Najib has been toying with the people over the election date for more than a year, BN should have worked on the list a long time ago.
“This is a pathetic excuse for delaying the dissolution of Parliament,” she added.
As for the security in Lahad Datu being used as a reason, Ambiga expressed puzzlement.
“We were previously given the impression that everything was fine and safe… for the election to be held there. This is news to me. It seems like the government is caught in its own web of misinformation… I would like to know the truth about the situation there,” she said.
Commenting on the automatic dissolution of the Negeri Sembilan State Legislative Assembly last night, Ambiga said this is not something to be proud of as it meant that the incumbent government is being booted out of power by the Federal Constitution.
“…unless we amend the Constitution and have fixed dates for elections. Then everybody’s life goes on until the date of election; now everyone’s life is on hold… this is the psychological point and it is shameful,” she added.
Furthermore, Ambiga stated that automatic dissolution is a constitutional safeguard against recalcitrant regimes.
“Let me stress again that there was nothing to be proud of allowing for an automatic dissolution, although it was legal. No self-respecting government would allow that to happen,” she added.
Najib’s delay in dissolving Parliament has led to a litany of speculations, ranging from a lack of confidence to more last-minute plots being hatched against the opposition.
Parliament is scheduled for automatic dissolution on April 27.

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