Ten years ago, no one in Malaysia would have entertained the thought that it was possible to bring about political changes to the extent there could be change of government in Putrajaya.
But the “political tsunami” in the 2008 General Elections led to the 13th General Elections three years ago on May 5, 2013 when Malaysians voters rooted for change of Federal Government, but it was so near and yet so far – with Datuk Seri Najib Razak scraping through in Putrajaya as the country’s first minority Prime Minister winning 47 per cent of the popular vote and for the first time, saved by the voters of Sabah and Sarawak who decided who will be the country’s Prime Minister and the ruling coalition.
If 60 per cent of the 57 Parliamentary seats in Sabah and Sarawak had voted for change in the 2013 General Elections, Malaysia would have a new political coalition and a new Prime Minister in Putrajaya three years ago.
Malaysia has been described as a prime example of a country which had gone against the international trend in the past decades of decentralization, devolution or delegation of power and responsibility from the national centre to the provincial, state and local governments, not only on public transport, solid waste management and local government, but also in areas like education and policing.
But in Malaysia, the reverse had been the case, consistently centralizing revenue sources and responsibilities, with the country considered as one of the most heavily centralized federations in fiscal terms in the world.
Three years have brought great changes in the country. While Malaysians were full of hope and expectation of change for the better in the general elections three years ago, this seemed to have been replaced with a sense of despair and hopelessness that there could be any political change for the better in the near future.
Overnight, Malaysia became a global kleptocracy, with the country suffering the international odium and ignominy of being ranked as one of the world’s most corrupt nations – especially with the damning indictment of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuits for forfeiture of US$1 billion assets in the United States, United Kingdom and Switzerland from the theft, embezzlement, defrauding and money-laundering of US$3.5 billion 1MDB funds, and the separate investigations by over half a dozen other national jurisdictions about global financial fraud and money-laundering involving the Malaysian government.
What is most mortifying is that despite the largest global kleptocracy case which involved Malaysia with the naming directly and indirectly of Malaysian public officiais, including “MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1”, besmirching and staining the reputation and integrity of Malaysia, no efforts are being made by the Malaysian governent and the various national enforcement and investigative agencies to clear Malaysia’s name of the damning indictment as a global kleptocracy.
But what is even more mortifying is that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the Malaysian government seem to be able to get away with such height of irresponsibilty – raising the question whether Malaysians are prepared to be tarred with the stain of a global kleptocracy overnight.
The PBS deputy president and Minister for Energy, Green Technology and Water, Datuk Seri Dr. Maximus Ongkili has announced the setting up of a working committee to study the “skipped facts” on the formation of Malaysia in the school textbooks.
Even more serious than the “skipped facts” on the formation of Malaysia in the school history textbooks are the “rewriting of history” distorting the truth – and there can be no more serious distortion of the truth than for Malaysians to accept the country’s transformation overnight into a global kleptocracy.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak is duty-bound as the Prime Minister of the country to clear Malaysia’s name as a global kleptocracy.
I understand that Datuk Seri Najib Razak will not be going to the United Nations next month to address the UN General Assembly, which he had done four times since becoming Prime Minister in April 2009, where he repeatedly spoke of his proposal for a Global Movement of Moderates, which had fallen flat not only internationally, but also within the country.
This time, however, Najib owes the country a national duty and obligation to speak at the UN General Assembly to purge the national shame and ignominy of being transformed overnight into a global kleptocracy, and to convince the international community of Malaysia’s commitment to democracy, integrity and good governance.
I wish to congratulate the organisers of the DAP Policy Forum in Kota Kinabalu for its continuing initiative to transfer social democratic ideals into pragmatic reforms beneficial to the Malaysian society.
We cannot simply deal with the grievances whether in Sabah, Sarawak or Peninsular Malaysia, whether concerning the various communities and religions, the Malays, Chinese, Kadazans, Ibans, Indians or Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Taoists and Sikhs, but must offer answers – which is the challenge for the DAP Policy Forum.
Even in the darkest moments, there is still the hope for change – and this is why the question whether there could be change of government at national and state levels (in Sabah) remain a tantalising dream.
We must offer a new deal for all Malaysians, where everyone under the Malaysian sun can feel proud that he or she is a dignified citizen of the Malaysian nation. Let this be our constant challenge.
(Speech at the DAP Policy Forum “New Deal for Malaysia” at Kota Kinabalu on Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 10 am)