(12th General Election Nomination Day statement by DAP Ipoh Timur parliamentary candidate Lim Kit Siang in Ipoh on Sunday, 24th February 2008)
This 12th general election, unlike the previous 11 general elections, is not just about the next five years but a vote about the first 50 years of Malaysian nationhood and the next 50 years!
To many Malaysians, this general election is the last hope for change and an acid test whether there is a future for the building of a democratic, competitive, multi-racial, multi-religious, secular and just nation which our forefathers pledged to build through the Merdeka “social contract”.
It will be the clincher in the decision-making of many Malaysians whether there is hope to build a democratic, just and competitive Malaysia or there will be a new exodus of braindrain of the best and brightest of Malaysians to other lands in despair at any possibility that all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, can have an equal place under the Malaysia sun.
Most challenging of all, the March 8 general election offers a golden opportunity to halt and dismantle the four-decade Umno political hegemony which has become the greatest threat to democracy, international competitiveness and national unity in Malaysia.
Umno political hegemony has marginalized not only whole communities of ordinary Malaysians, but even the other Barisan Nasional component parties as illustrated by the ordeal of the Gerakan Wanita Chief, Datuk Tan Lian Hoe, being kicked around like a football Bukit Gantang, back to Gerakan’s Taiping seat, then to Lenggong and now Gerik.
The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has said that none of his cabinet ministers except for his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Razak were guaranteed a cabinet position even if they won in the general election – meaning that the top leaders of MCA, Gerakan, MIC for the first time in 51 years are not assured of a Cabinet position if elected.
This the latest twist in the Barisan Nasional ‘power-sharing” and proof of greater marginalization of the other Barisan Nasional component parties because of the unchecked rise of Umno political hegemony.
The challenge on March 8 is whether history can be made to check and dismantle the Umno political hegemony, which marginalized ordinary Malays, Indians, Chinese, Kadazan-Dusun-Muruts, Ibans and indigenous people, orang Asli, by depriving the Barisan Nasional of two-thirds majority.
If DAP, PKR and PAS can each secure 25 parliamentary seats, denying BN of 75 parliamentary seats, then the beginning of the end of the umno political hegemony threatening democracy, international competitiveness and national unity would have begun.