It is the greatest naivety for anyone to think that there are those among the 45 signatories of the Citizen’s Declaration to Save Malaysia who believed that the day after the signing of the 304 Declaration on March 4, 2016 that Datuk Seri Najib Razak would be removed as Prime Minister.
The road to fundamental political changes in Malaysia is a long and arduous one, with the Citizen’s Declaration on March 4 only the first step.
Malaysia is in uncharted political waters and we can only take the political tests and challenges we have assumed with the signing and proclamation of the Citizen’s Declaration on March 4 one step at a time, fully putting national interests above all racial, religious, regional, party and individual interests.
As stated in the Citizen’s Declaration to Save Malaysia, the signatories are fully aware that leadership change must be accompanied by democratic and institutional changes or the country would be back to square one.
In the sixth decade of nationhood, Malaysia is very sick in all sectors of human endeavour, whether in politics, economics, education, human rights, environment, good governance, nation building or even in the field of sports – which is why the film “Ola Bola” evoked so much mixed national feelings.
In fact, I had been calling for a post-BN, post-PR “Save Malaysia” grand coalition (when there was still a Pakatan Rakyat) for the past year, urging on Malaysians to think the unthinkable and move beyond the present political scenario.
This post-BN, post-PR “Save Malaysia” grand coalition was not to be a copy of the “UG” (Unity Government between UMNO and PAS to protect Malay unity) Government which had been proposed on-and-off since the 2008 General Elections but a national consensus not exclusive to any one race or religion but fully inclusive of all Malaysian races, religions and regions, in other words, a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-regional new Malaysian coalition comprising Muslims and non-Muslims, Malays and non-Malays, and Malaysians from Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah.
I spelt out this call for a Save Malaysia National Coalition when I spoke to Malaysian students in Alexandria in April last year when DAP MPs made a fact-finding visit to Jordan and Egypt, and I stand by what I had proposed.
The “Save Malaysia” Grand Coalition must not be an opportunistic get-together but must be based on a programme of principles and the national interests.
Similarly, the Citizen’s Declaration to Save Malaysia must not be an opportunistic document but must be the forerunner of a programme for democratic and institutional reforms to make Malaysia great again where all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region or politics could again feel proud to be a Malaysian citizen.
When I was accused of being opportunistic, unprincipled, selling out the DAP and the national interests in signing the Citizen’s Declaration for Save Malaysia, I am reminded of my first ISA detention in 1969 when in the first few days of being sent to the Muar Detention Centre, I watched the film “Soul of Nation” – 国魂 – and the immortal words of Wen Tiangzang:
『人生自古誰無死，留取丹心照汗青』—None since the advent of time have escaped death, may my loyalty forever illuminate the annals of history.
I had seen this film before during my school days in the fifties, but it was in Muar Detention Centre when I was a ISA detainee that it made the greatest impression on me – on the primacy of patriotism and loyalty to the nation and the great principles and ideals for which the DAP was formed to achieve in 1966.
I am prepared to work with any Malaysian to Save Malaysia, not only Mahathir and Muhyiddin, but even with Najib if the Prime Minister is prepared to admit that he had led the country on a wrong tangent and that Malaysia must be saved with far-reaching democratic and institutional reforms.
I believe that the overwhelming majority of Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, race or politics, love this country and can subordinate self-interest to national interests and support a Save Malaysia campaign to stop the country hurtling down the slippery slope towards a failed and a rogue state.
I am glad that the people of Sungai Patani have given me full endorsement for taking a strong stand to “Save Malaysia”, even to work with Mahathir and Muhyiddin and all like-minded political and civil society leaders who could agree with the two major thrusts in the Citizen’s Declaration – the removal of Najib as Prime Minister and far-reaching democratic and institutional reforms.
(Speech at the “Mana RM2.6 billion” dialogue in Sungai Patani on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 12 noon)