The opposition parties disagree on too many things to be able to form a stable government for 5 years. But they all agree on the need to change the government and fight corruption. Therefore, they should be able to form a temporary coalition to fight GE14 on a platform that they will rule for only 1 year to implement a limited, specific and agreed program of institutional reform and repeal of oppressive laws.
Election manifestos do not appear to have any effect on election results in Malaysia. This may be because Malaysian politics is personality driven and not policy driven, manifestos are too long, or because there is no input from the public and civil society. For GE14 a manifesto is a vital tool for uniting a divided opposition. The Citizen’s Manifesto is an electronic database which allows the public to contribute ideas for inclusion in political manifestos.
As the umbrella body for civil society, Bersih must call a general meeting of its endorsing NGOs to enable civil society to reach a consensus on the Citizens’ Declaration. Civil society leaders who support the Citizens’ Declaration must critically assess what they are supporting. It is untrue for them to claim that the effect of removing Najib is unknown. If UMNO remains in power, it is a certainty that Najib will be replaced by Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
It is doubtful that Dr Mahathir’s strategy behind the Citizens’ Declaration can succeed. The article argues that the most certain way to remove Najib as PM is through a Save Malaysia opposition (Pakatan Harapan + UMNO rebels) fighting Najib’s UMNO/BN one to one at GE14, together with a Citizen’s Manifesto containing detailed, concrete, and specific proposals for institutional reform.