Although Barisan Nasonal Ministers continue to claim, without batting an eyelid, that Malaysia has one of the best educational systems in the world which is comparable if not better than the best in the world, there is no lack of example of the poor comprehension levels and declining educational standards in Malaysia.
These are not just from the results of international assessment tests like PISA (Programme for International Students Assessments) or TIMSS (Trends in Mathematics and Science Studies) where Malaysian students scored consistently in the world’s lowest one-third bracket, four or even five years behind their peers in the world’s top achieving countries like Shanghai, Singapore, South Korea and Japan or the various world top university rankings where Malaysia seemed to have slipped into the zone of oblivion.
Malaysian are often regaled by frequent bloopers like the recent case of the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, who sent the police into a frenzy of action because he thought that a tweet by an Opposition Member of Parliament “Royal my foot” was a blatant and seditious attack on the institution of constitutional monarchy or the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi who believed that his infamous letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in the United States vouching for the character and integrity of an international gambling kingpin was merely to confirm that the “14K triad” did not exist in the country.
Of course these bloopers were nothing compared to the one made collectively by Najib’s 35-member Cabinet which created history and a record of sorts when they completely misunderstood the call by the Minister for Agriculture and Agro-based Industries, Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob to Malay consumers to boycott Chinese businesses as not targetting Chinese traders alone but aimed at all traders.
But the biggest howler must be those who cannot differentiate the complexities of three entirely different concepts – “Save Malaysia”, “Save UMNO” and “Save Najib”, thinking that they are one and the same.
When I said in my speech to Malaysian students in Alexandria on Friday that I am prepared to work with former Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir on the “Save Malaysia” agenda, I was not thinking of “Save UMNO” or “Save Najib”.
In fact, there is nothing for me to work with Mahathir or anyone else as far as “Save Umno” or “Save Najib” is concerned, as UMNO is an incorrigible party set in the ways of money politics and abuses of power, and the greatest contribution UMNO can make to the healthy development of democratic politics and Malaysian nation-building is for UMNO to go into the Opposition benches to allow Malaysia to become a normal democratic country where the transition of power from one political coalition to another is not regarded as a national catastrophe but a necessary rite of passage from a country to graduate to become a normal democracy.
I believe the first and third Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Hussein Onn would agree with me and this was why both of them refused to join UMNO Baru which was formed by Mahathir in 1988 and both remained outside UMNO Baru till their last breath.
Despite his poor health, Tunku insisted on campaigning for DAP and Gagasan Rakyat in Penang against Mahathir in the 1990 general elections, and although Tun Hussein did not openly campaign against UMNO Baru or Mahathir, I still remember vividly what he told me at the Petronas headquarters in Dayabumi where he kept an office as Petronas Adviser, confiding in me that his greatest political mistake in his life was to appoint Mahathir as Deputy Prime Minister, and later elevated as Prime Minister for 22 long years.
I do not believe Mahathir would have made the elementary mistake of equating “Save Malaysia” with either “Save UMNO” or “Save Najib”, but there are those including UMNO/BN editorialists and cybertroopers who thought that there is no diference among the three concepts of “Save Malaysia”, “Save UMNO” and “Save Najib”.
I stand by what I said to Malaysian students in Alexandria that the focus of the present must be unwaveringly to “Save Malaysia” from the present roller-coaster policies which threaten to plunge Malaysia down the slippery slope, whether in nation-building, politics, economics, education or other aspects of national life to that of a “failed state”.
I have said that for this formidable task, we must be prepared to put our differences in the past to one side and concentrate all our energies on one common agenda, to save Malaysia from all centrifugal forces to tear the country asunder.
Not only both the political coalitions of Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat are facing an unprecedented crisis, the Malaysian Federation is facing its greatest survival test for the first time since its formation in 1963 as the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement are facing their greatest challenge over the latest UMNO-PAS power play on hudud implementation.
If both the Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat cannot survive intact as a result of the hudud challenge, then Malaysians must think the unthinkable of a new political landscape, which is post-BN and post-PR, if Malaysia is to continue to survive as a nation.
This is why I had mooted the idea of a Grand Coalition which is post-BN and post-PR to “Save Malaysia”.
This ‘Grand Coalition is not a ‘”Unity Government” like the UG concept of UMNO and PAS, but a completely different creature altogether.
It is a Grand Coalition of MPs from both sides of the political divide as well as both sides of the South China Sea, Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, to defend constitutionalism and rule of law with a new Prime Minister and a new Malaysian Government – going beyond the existing political parties.
The new Prime Minister can come from either side of the political divide who wants to Save Malaysia and defend the Federal Constitution and the rule of law, who can be a man or a woman.
Is this idea of a Grand Coalition, going beyond the existing political parties, totally premature or a practical and achievable concept.
This is the greatest challenge facing Malaysians today.
I mooted this idea of a possible “Save Malaysia’ “Grand Coalition” which is post-BN post-PR in my personal capacity, as this is a proposal which had not been discussed at the top DAP leadership councils.
It is indeed a great insult to the political intelligence of Malaysia if this idea of a “Save Malaysia” Grand Coalition is reduced and degenerated into a “Save UMNO” or “Save Najib” coalition.
(Statement in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, 19th April 2015)