I have been involved in Malaysian politics for 50 years since the end of November 1965 not to “cari makan” for myself, as mentioned by the new Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Datuk Hasan Arifin, but to join forces with like-minded Malaysians to achieve an united, harmonious, democratic, just and prosperous nation which can a model and showcase to the world of a successful multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-lingual nation-building.
There are three episodes which highlight the ups-and-downs and the trials and tribulations of this 50-year political struggle for democracy, justice and an united Malaysian nation.
Firstly, there was an occasion in the seventies when a powerful UMNO Minister stood up in Parliament to interrupt my speech on the political, economic, good governance and nation-building failures of the UMNO-led government and told me haughtily that if I did not like Umno/BN government policies, I could leave the country to a foreign land. Without hesitation, I immediately responded by telling this Minister that if he did not like to hear what I had said, which represented the voice of the electorate who had elected me into Parliament, he could leave the country himself! That shut him up. A lesson in democracy as well as in Malaysian nation-building.
The second episode happened in Parliament early this month, when an UMNO Member of Parliament told DAP MP for Kota Kinabalu, Jimmy Wong, to ”balik tongsan” or to “return to mainland China”.
It is shocking proof that after 58 years of nation-building, there are still narrow-minded, extremist and intolerant mindsets in the country completely at odds with the inclusive 1Malaysia Policy which continue regard Malaysians as Malays, Chinese, Indians, Ibans and Kadazans instead of a new national identity of Malaysians who, despite their ethnic and religious differences, share a common overarching national identity and consciousness.
It is not possible within 58 years to make everyone a Malaysian “first and last”, as this must continue to be “a work in progress”, but those who espouse narrow-minded, extremist and intolerant racial and religious attitudes are not qualified to be elected as Ministers or Members of Parliament for they would have violated their oath as a Member of Parliament “to bear true faith and allegiance to Malaysia” and to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution”.
It is time that these narrow-minded, extremist and intolerant elements learn that “tongsan” for Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, is Malaysia itself not not mainland China, Indian sub-continent or any other foreign land!
The third episode refers to the realisation by the former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir that no party should rule forever and that “the best way is for the country to have two political parties; this would ensure that one or the other would win a majority to form the government”.
This is a far cry from his earlier statement that he was only interested in getting the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, replaced.
At last, despite his advanced years even Mahathir is learning the basic principles of a developed democratic system that a two-coalition system better than any one-party rule.
This is the dilemma faced by all Malaysians, the need for a new mindset when they are confronted with the gravity of the multitude of national crisis plaguing the country – that the issue is not whether to save an individual even if he is the Prime Minister or a political party even though it had been the backbone of the ruling coalition for the past 58 years since Merdeka in 1957, but how to save Malaysia from becoming a rogue and failed state where there is a breakdown of the rule of law and collapse of the good governance and the principles of accountability, transparency and integrity in public life – and when UMNO leaders have lost the national purpose and perspective.
I have just read an online news report of a group of UMNO branch leaders, calling itself “Gabungan Ketua Cawangan Malaysia” or “Coalition of Branch Chiefs Malaysia” (GKCM) demanding Najib’s resignation to resolve the party’s problems, with three objectives:
*First, the Umno president must step down.
*Second, there should be no sacking of Umno members who criticise or condemn leaders to improve them.
*Third, the Umno elections must go on.
Najib’s RM2.6 billion “donation” and the RM50 billion 1MDB twin mega scandals as well as his other policy disasters like the GST are the fuel causing such a revolt in UMNO.
The GRCM and Mahathir’s belated realisation that the two-coalition political system which Pakatan Harapan – comprising DAP, PKR and Parti AMANAH – is seeking to achieve in 14GE are important building blocks for a functioning and effective democracy and not anti-national efforts constitute salutary developments in Malaysian politics.
However, it is still premature to determine whether these new political forces and developments can shake Najib’s iron grip and control of UMNO structure and institutions although Malaysia is heading towards very stormy waters in unchartered seas.
[Speech (2) at the “Solidarity with Lim Kit Siang & Mana RM2.6 billion” kopitiam ceramah in Senai on Saturday, 28th November 2015 at 9 am]