Fifty years ago, I started my involvement in Malaysian politics and my current six-month suspension from Parliament in a most symbolic way marked my half-century of political work and patriotism where I dedicated virtually my whole life to the pursuit of the Malaysian Dream of an united, inclusive, progressive, just and prosperous Malaysia for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, language, culture, region, politics or class.
My six-month suspension from Parliament is a salutary reminder that the pursuit of the Malaysian Dream is not a completed journey but very much a work-in-progress, that it is not a smooth-sailing venture but requires courage, commitment and vision to overcome the trials and tribulations of an upstream, against-the-current struggle to build a better Malaysia for all Malaysians, where good governance and justice is the order of the day and an end to the ever-lengthening list of political and economic scandals suffocating the country.
There are many episodes in the past five decades which highlight the ups-and-downs of my 50-year political struggle for democracy, justice and an united Malaysian nation, but I will mention three of them.
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 last 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 Members of Parliament with such narrow-minded, extremist and intolerant mindsets after 58 years of nation-building, completely at odds with the Malaysian Dream, who have really violated their oath as a Member of Parliament “to bear true faith and allegiance to Malaysia” and to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” and not Nurul Izzah Anwar, the PKR Vice President and MP for Lembah Pantai, whom the Barisan Nasional Ministers and MPs want to persecute and penalize in Parliament.
I have dedicated 50 years of my life to the political betterment of Malaysia, for like all patriotic Malaysians regardless of race, religion, politics or region, our homeland or “tongsan” in the lingo of extremists and chauvinists is Malaysia and nowhere else, not to mainland China, Indian sub-continent or any other foreign land!
The third episode refers to the recent statement 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.
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 real 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 – especially when UMNO leaders have lost the national purpose and forsaken the Malaysian Dream.
The Malaysian Dream is unfinished business and only Malaysians, particularly the youths of Malaysia, can decide whether it would become a completed business or an abandoned project.
I started on this political journey when I was 24 years old.
I became DAP National Organising Secretary and Editor of the Rocket, the DAP party journal, when I was 25 years old.
I was first elected a Member of Parliament (Bandar Melaka), experienced my first Internal Security Act detention as well as elected DAP Secretary-General when in detention, when I was 28 years old.
Although I have continued the political journey for 50 years, the future of Malaysia rests with the youths of Malaysia, who constitute almost half the total population of Malaysia.
I call on the youths of Malaysia, regardless of race, religion or region, to continue to carry the torch of a Malaysian Dream to light up the country and be the exemplars of a Malaysian Dream mind-set, for as a critical demographic group in the country, only the youths of Malaysia can save and determine the future of Malaysia.
(Speech at a DAP “Solidarity with Lim Kit Siang & Mana RM2.6 billion?” gathering in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, 1st December 2015 at 8 pm)