We gather for the announcement of the DAP/Pakatan Rakyat candidate for the Bukit Gelugor parliamentary by-election with mixed feelings – great sadness that this occurred because of the untimely death of Karpal Singh, an irreplaceable people’s champion; and enormous sense of responsibility and challenge, as the by-election is taking place at a very critical stage of the nation’s development.
At the DAP Gelang Patah 13GE Anniversary Dinner last night, I called for a people’s awakening to launch a national movement of moderates against racial and religious extremists to save Malaysia from descending to become a failed state.
Let the Bukit Gelugor and Teluk Intan parliamentary by-elections, to be held respectively on May 25 and May 31, be the first two test cases of a Malaysian people’s awakening for a national movement against racial and religious extremists in the country.
In the past 12 months since the 13GE last May, Malaysia had been blighted by two “missing” disasters threatening to plunge the country into a failed state – firstly, the missing MH 370, after 64 days with no clues or end in sight and secondly, the “missing Prime Minister” tragedy.
Both these two “missing” disasters had seriously highlighted the grave weaknesses and faultlines of the Malaysian nation and governance.
Today is the 64th day of the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 on March 8, and despite the world’s largest multi-national, longest and most expensive search on air, land, sea and under-sea for the aircraft and its 239 passengers and crew, we are no nearer to an answer as to what happened in the early hours of March 8 to the routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, as no wreckage had been found and there is absolutely no clue what actually happened or where the airliner had actually ended.
It is a great tragedy that after two months of search for MH 370 in the South China Sea, the Straits of Malacca, Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean, more and more people are asking whether the six-week multi-national search in the southern Indian Ocean based at Perth was the wrong area.
Yesterday, it was reported that 77 per cent of an Australian poll don’t believe the search area off Western Australia in the south Indian Ocean is the right place to search – following reports MH 370 is claimed to be in Bay of Bengal, South China Sea, Gulf of Thailand, Maldives and Diego Garcia naval base.
Furthermore, the majority of the respondents or 71 per cent thought Australia should stop footing the hefty bill – which had incurred costs of over RM100 million and will need more than another RM100 million in the next phase of the search.
Another poll in the United States showed that some 75 per cent of Americans do not believe that the Malaysian Government had done a good job managing the search and providing information to the general public.
Malaysians do not have to depend on polls in Australia, the United States or other countries to form their opinion about the MH370 disaster – as a Malaysian poll at the end of March showed that more than half of Malaysians surveyed believe that the government had been hiding information about MH 370’s disappearance.
What is indisputable is that never before in the 57-year of the nation has the Malaysian government and its accountability, transparency and good governance come under such intense and continuing international scrutiny, and we were found wanting on these criteria, not only in the international but also the national court of opinion.
The second “missing” disaster after the 13GE is the disaster of the “missing Prime Minister”, which has plunged the country into the worst nation-building crisis with the rising and unchecked crescendo of ugly voices of racial and religious extremism whether by racist and chauvinist NGOs like Perkasa and ISMA, threatening to tear apart the very fabric and integrity of the Malaysian nation.
Non-Malays and non-Muslims are insulted as “pendatang”, “trespassers” and “intruders” utterly subversive not only of the Malaysian nation-building process, but of the official signature policy of Datuk Seri Najib Razak when he became Prime Minister in April 2009.
Najib launched the Global Movement of Moderates and said at its inaugural international conference in Kuala Lumpur in January 2012:
“Malaysia has long been synonymous not with extremism but with moderation, tolerance, inclusivity and even acceptance.. In a predominantly Muslim country with substantial communities of Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Taoists and Sikhs, we know well the ‘dignity of difference’. We have many ethnic groups, many religions, but we continually strive to be a harmonious and truly united nation predicated on the values of moderation and the spirit of 1Malaysia.
“We know that we are best and we are strongest when we actively embrace our differences rather than just putting up with them – and it is in that spirit that we come together at the first ever meeting of the Global Movement of the Moderates. But a truly global movement cannot be imposed from above – so we must awaken in all our countries and communities the triumph of truth over ignorance, falsehood and fear.”
All these claims and credentials of “moderation” for Malaysia came under challenge in the past few weeks when never before in the nation’s history had there been such concentrated outpouring of racial and religious extremism, intolerance, hatred and venom.
Malaysia is facing a very dangerous period in her nation-building when moderation, tolerance, inclusivity and even acceptance of Malaysia’s diversity of races, religions, languages and cultures are condemned as anti-national and even akin to treasonous activities.
The leader of ISMA has been likened to Pauline Hanson of Australia in the 1990s, who shot to prominence with her racist and extremist views, and though such extremism got her initial political attention and momentary prominence in Australian politics, she was eventually relegated to the dustbin of history because her racism and extremism went against the grain of mainstream Australian opinion.
We may be seeing a similar phenomenon in Malaysia.
The greatest threat from the extremist racist and religious fulminations from Perkasa and ISMA is not their advocacy by the extremist Perkasa and ISMA leaders, but the silence of those in authority, especially the Prime Minister himself, which is interpreted not only as given “immunity and impunity” to these extremist views, but even worse, as either agreement or condoning of such views.
MH 370 has disappeared for 64 days unveiling a shocking state of absence of accountability and transparency as well as lack of good governance of the Malayian government of the day.
For how long is the “disappearance of Prime Minister” be played out before Najib is prepared to come forward to declare not only his dissociation but opposition to extremist views, whether on race on religion, which makes total nonsense of his 1Malaysia policy as well as Movement of Global Moderates?
Or have the racial and religious extremists in Perkasa and ISMA overawed, overwhelmed and overpowered Najib and the UMNO/BN government?
If so, it is most important that the voters of Bukit Gelugor and Teluk Intan should the pioneers in a Malaysia people’s awakening to spearhead a national movement of moderates against racial and religious extremists in the country to save the country.
(Media Statement on announcement of Ramkarpal Singh as DAP Bukit Gelugor parliamentary by-election candidate in Bukit Gelugor on Saturday, 10th May 2014 at 12.30 pm)