Wan Hamidi Hamid
The Malaysian Insider
26 July 2014
Once upon a time, a political party was formed. Its name was Democratic Action Party or DAP, and it wanted to promote the idea of a Malaysian Malaysia.
It was meant to be an idea for a united nation, a country for all Malaysians, regardless of race and religion. Hence, Malaysia would never be a monopoly of any particular race, religion or ideology, as enshrined in the original Federal Constitution.
The idea was born almost a half century ago. It may sound obsolete to some, it may even sound obscene to some racist-minded people.
However, despite its noble intention, the Alliance and its successor Barisan Nasional under the control of Umno through their controlled media had portrayed the ideal as something evil, especially for the Malays.
Even until today, there are some Malays who believe that Malaysian Malaysia is an attempt to destroy the Malays, although no one has ever come up with a detailed explanation on how such a diabolical plot would be carried out.
In other words, it was just a lie propagated over the years by Umno-Barisan Nasional.
But in politics, perception is almost everything. Hence “Malaysian Malaysia” has become a dirty word, regurgitated by Umno-owned media as well as other state apparatuses such as government-conducted team-building courses and political talks.
“Malaysian Malaysia” has even paved the way for Umno-BN to push the boundary of control by vilifying words such as “liberal”, “secular”, “plural” and many more terms that imply freedom, democracy and rights.
Yet many Malaysians, including some Malays, are not easily cowed by such form of control. They know some leaders in the Umno-BN government are merely trying to usurp power via hegemonic dominance, especially by using, misusing and abusing religion and race.
For DAP, it has suffered almost 50 years of lies and slander of being demonised as communist and Chinese chauvinist party. Yet the party is still standing.
And now, more than ever, young Malaysians have become more interested to know about DAP. Many have joined, many more are still thinking of joining.
To the surprise of Umno and its political cronies, even young Malays are interested in joining DAP, or at least are keen to know deeper about the party. “What’s happening here?” some of them may be wondering.
No doubt some people have some ideas about the phenomenon – maybe it’s the new generation of millennials (born after 1985) who have had no historical baggage, maybe the Internet has helped the young to circumvent old politics, or maybe the youth are merely curious or perhaps they are just being rebellious.
Or perhaps – to some Malays especially – it’s the image of Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, the DAP candidate for the recent Teluk Intan by-election, giving hope to a new era of politics in Malaysia.
Whatever the reasons, for he DAP, it is yet a new hope for its ongoing process of rejuvenating the party. By that, it doesn’t simply mean having young faces but also new ideas, allowing the combination of strength between the young and old with a shared ideal of a new Malaysia.
It’s also beyond the party. It’s a dream for all Malaysians. This is the idea of Impian Malaysia or the Malaysian Dream.
In the words of Lim Kit Siang:
“The Malaysian Dream (Impian Malaysia) envisions a plural society where all her citizens are united as one people, rising above their ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic differences as the common grounds binding them as one citizenship exceed the differences that divide them because of their ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural divisions.
“The Malaysian Dream does not exist only today. It had existed even before the founding of Malaya and Malaysia.
“The Johor Malay leader Datuk Onn Jaafar had also fought for it as far back as 62 years ago in 1951 when he suggested that Umno open its door to non-Malays and Umno change its name from United Malays National Organisation to United Malayans National Organisation.
“This is a worthwhile patriotic contribution to the Malaysian Dream shared by all patriotic Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, down the decades, whether in Malaysia or in the world Malaysian Diaspora.”
Those words were uttered a year ago when Kit Siang launched the Impian Malaysia movement in Gelang Patah, Johor to recruit “agents… for our activities and programmes to promote Malaysian identity and consciousness particularly among the young generation of Malaysians.”
The DAP veteran is serious with his dream of hope.
This means Impian Malaysia is not merely a slogan, it is aimed at the younger generation. It challenges them to be in the forefront. It wants them to walk the talk, pardon the cliché, because the Umno-BN leaders have failed the young in providing the environment, the space and the zone needed for them to express themselves openly without fear of anything.
The Umno-BN leaders have failed the young who are disgusted to see politics of hate, racial abuses and discrimination, economic injustices, income inequalities, job opportunities, limited freedom for arts and culture, lack of academic excellence and many other forms of unnecessary restrictions.
Hence, Impian Malaysia aims to unite Malaysians through all forms of programmes, activities and ideas that promote understanding and tolerance.
Impian Malaysia is both an idea as well as a programme that aspires to empower Malaysians, especially the marginalised and the have-nots.
In fact, programmes have begun since last year with the launch of “Impian Sarawak” where DAP volunteers are working hand in hand with local villagers to build basic infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity supply, and other amenities.
From Sarawak to “Impian Sabah”, and now more similar projects, including environmental care programme are being implemented in the peninsula.
Cynics will always have time and energy to point out weaknesses. Most of them will see Impian Malaysia as at best, an idea or worst, a political slogan.
Surely they are entitled to their opinion. However, lest they forget, nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come, a saying usually attributed to the great French author Victor Hugo.
However, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be automatically successful. Many of us understand that if such an idea can win the hearts and minds of all Malaysians, it may spell the end of racial politics and race-based political parties in our country. And we know that many people in power now may not like it, to put it mildly.
This simply means that for Impian Malaysia to become a reality, it’s not going to be a walk in the park. Hence the minds, the strength and the tenacity of our younger generation are much needed.
With the help of the senior minds and experiences, the young can finally achieve the equal opportunity dream of Datuk Onn whose idea was far ahead of its time.
At the same time it’s important to note that Impian Malaysia is not a new thing. Yet it’s not about going back into the past. It’s all about refreshing an idea that has always been with us for such a long time.
It’s about doing the right thing without being afraid of our own shadow. It’s not easy but it can be done, if we want to. – July 26, 2014.