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Lines finally drawn in fight for Malaysia

It took Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to force the issue for all Malaysians. He drew a line in the sand today, asking friends and foes to make up their minds once and for all.

Get on his side to "Save Malaysia" from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's government or be the enemy and part of the Najib Party – the ones defending the status quo as much as Dr Mahathir did when sacking Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim 18 years ago.

Anwar has signed up to support his mentor-turned-nemesis's efforts. So has Lim Kit Siang and the DAP, Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and the PKR gang, and activists such as Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and Maria Chin Abdullah.

A total of 58 prominent Malaysians signed Dr Mahathir's Citizens' Declaration today. The only ones missing are those from PAS.
Obviously, they have either decided to remain neutral or their absence is an implicit support for Najib.

Over the next few days and weeks and months, perhaps more will sign up to show their support for Dr Mahathir and gang – united by a common cause rather than a genuine alliance of hearts and minds.

The final number before the core group calls it a success will be interesting.

What happens after that, the legal and permissible ways explored to unseat a sitting prime minister, will be a fascinating experience for Malaysia.

True to form, Putrajaya has dismissed this grand alliance of mainly past and some present leaders. It says Malaysia is a democracy and the only way to change a government is through the ballot box.

"Today, Tun Mahathir and his former enemies have demonstrated the depth of their political opportunism and desperation.

"There is an existing mechanism to change the government and prime minister. It's called a general election. ‎And it is the only mechanism that is lawful, democratic and fulfils the people's will‎.

"In 2013, the Malaysian people expressed their will and elected the current government, led by prime minister Najib Razak. If Tun Mahathir wants to change the government, he must follow democratic process and await the next election, in line with Malaysia's laws and Federal Constitution," a government spokesman said.

Yes, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government has forgotten what had happened in Perak in 2009 when its three lawmakers crossed the aisle and instead of a snap election, it won the state by getting a show of support from its lawmakers and the rebels.

Or for that matter, how Umno changes menteri besars in Terengganu and Kedah recently just by a simple show of disloyalty to the incumbent.

But the lines are drawn now. Dr Mahathir and his friends against Najib and his core supporters in Umno, BN and perhaps some from PAS.

It might actually take a general election to see who will win this battle, and the nearest is as early as 2018. But will the winners get to save Malaysia, and from what?

And what has happened to Malaysia's youth? Will they let their ageing politicians drive the agendas of both sides or actually come forward and work to reform the structural issues that have led to a leadership that has yet to account for itself.

That really is the question that needs a quick answer.

The future does not belong to a winner from both sides of the lines drawn today. It belongs to Malaysians who want a government that is accountable for its actions, not one that does not walk its own talk. – March 4, 2016.

* Jahabar Sadiq runs The Malaysian Insider.

- See more here.

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