Three challenging tasks for Reformists in the 14th General Elections

The 18-year-old Reformasi Movement which we commemorate today is an important milestone in the 60-year history of the nation to become a truly developed country in every sense of the world – not only in achieving economic progress and justice, but also in promoting democracy, upholding the rule of law, practicing the principles of good governance and building an united nation from diverse races, languages, religions and cultures.

It marks an important coming-of-age of the vision and consciousness that Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region or class must unite to forge a transcending national unity to pursue the common goals of justice, freedom, integrity and ethics.

There have been important gains in the Reformasi movement in the past 18 years, but there have also been major setbacks and a lot remains to be done before we reach our goal.

There has on the one hand a greater realization that Malaysians must not just live in their separate communal and religious worlds, but must interact with different racial, religious and cultural groups to forge greater tolerance and understanding with each other, while on the other hand, there has been an intensification of the politics of race, religion, hate and even lies by certain quarters in their last-ditch effort to perpetuate their political power.

A titanic struggle for the soul and future of Malaysia is being fought, whether Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, class, gender or age could come together to fight for justice, freedom, clean and honest politics for all, or we allow the worst racial and religious polarization to take place, where false issues of racial or religious hegemony hold sway and subordinate the rights of all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, class, gender or age to basic human needs and common decency whether socio-economic, educational, political or spiritual/moral.

Recently, MCA cybertroopers launched an attack on me for being anti-Chinese, because I attended the burial rites of 14-year-old Sharul Izwan, one of the eight Malay teenagers who died in horrific tragedy in Johor Baru in the early hours of last Saturday when a car mowed into “mosquito” cyclists with their modified “basikal nyamuk” including the removal of brakes.

I grieved for the eight teenagers from low-income families who died, I grieved for the parents and families of the eight casualties and the other eight kids who were injured; and I grieve for the 22-year-old saleswoman who will have to live with a life-long trauma of causing the death of eight teenagers and injuring eight others, although this was never her intention.

Who is to be blamed for the horrific tragedy in Johor Baru? Is this a racial problem because the victims were Malays and the driver a Chinese?

I think we must all bear part of the responsibility for the horrific tragedy as it is the failure of everyone – parents, teachers, community leaders, politicians and official institutions which, by their indifference, negligence and irresponsibility, have contributed to the making of “mosquito” bike tragedy and disaster in Johor Baru last Saturday.

Our paramount concern must be to ensure that the horrific Johor Baru tragedy would not recur, whether in Johor or elsewhere in Malaysia, and we must learn the lessons from the Johor Baru tragedy.

Unfortunately, there are political desperadoes, whether from the MCA or Barisan Nasional, who want to turn every issue and tragedy into a racial one, when the problems of the cycling sub-culture among children from low-income families is a Malaysian socio-economic problem and not a racial one, and certainly not one to launch an attack on me for being “anti-Chinese”!

We cannot be anti-Chinese or anti-Malay, anti-Indian, anti-Kadazan or anti-Iban or anti any religion, or we would have betrayed the Malaysian vision which regards every Malaysian, regardless of race, religion, region, class, gender or age as one Malaysian people.

There is also in circulation a pernicious doctrine that it does not matter whether Malaysia is regarded world-wide as a global kleptocracy so long as the Prime Minister is a Muslim – as if there is any religion in the world which supports corruption and moral decadence!

This is most abhorrent not only to Islam but to the world’s great religions which meet in confluence in Malaysia as they all condemn corruption.

There is this verse in the Quran that depicts the corruption of men:

Surah al-Ruum (The Romans); Chapter 30: Verse 41

“[Since they have become oblivious of God], corruption has appeared on land and in the sea as an outcome of what men’s hands have wrought; and so He will let them taste [the evil of] some of their doings, so that they might return [to the right path].”

There is the Hadith where Prophet Mohamad said:

“The curse of Allah is upon the one who offers a bribe and the one who takes it.”

The Bible said:

“God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.” – Genesis 6:12.

In Buddhism, the Buddha discussed the importance and the prerequisites of a good government. He showed how the country could become corrupt, degenerate and unhappy when the head of the government becomes corrupt and unjust. He spoke against corruption and how a government should act based on humanitarian principles.

The Buddha once said,

‘When the ruler of a country is just and good, the ministers become just and good; when the ministers are just and good, the higher officials become just and good; when the higher officials are just and good, the rank and file become just and good; when the rank and file become just and good, the people become just and good.’(Anguttara Nikaya)

Thirukural 289 said:

Knowing nothing but deviousness, Men die each time they contrive their corrupt deeds.

This means that those who are acquainted with nothing but fraud (and corrupt practices) will perish in the very commission of transgression.

The immediate tasks of Reformists are even more difficult and formidable than in the past for they will have to address these new lies and falsehoods – that corruption and abuses of power are to be condoned if they are committed by their coreligionists.

The Reformists have a “mother of all battles” in their hands – to Save Malaysia as the forthcoming 14th General Election will be a battle of Democracy versus Kleptocracy.

Our political challenge is to create an united opposition coalition committed to constitutional and democratic reforms in Malaysia where the constitutional rights of the people of Malaysia, as well as the states of Sabah and Sarawak are fully safeguarded.

There have been many pessimistic forecasts by political and economic analysts that they do not expect major changes in Malaysia despite the political and economic woes in the country as the opposition is in disarray and the absence of an alternative to the UMNO/BN coalition.

Let the “Democracy versus Kleptocracy” be the touchstone of the “Save Malaysia” campaign, which is the minimal pre-condition for an Opposition coalition against UMNO/Barisan Nasional to save Malaysia from ending up like Zimbabwe as a kleptocracy, Argentina as a failed state and North Korea as an autocratic and repressive state where the citizens have lost their basic democratic rights.

There are those in the opposition who do not see anything wrong with Malaysia being regarded world-wide as a “global kleptocracy”, and who want proof that “MO1” mentioned 36 times in the US Department of Justice (DOJ) kleptocratic lawsuit to forfeit over US$1 billion 1MDB-linked assets is the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak or want evidence about the multi-billion dollar 1MDB global financial scandal.

These people may physically be in the Opposition, but their heart and soul are with Najib and UMNO and they will never agree to drawing the battle lines in the 14 GE as between “democracy vs kleptocracy.”

We must not be distracted by these “sheep in wolves’ clothing”.

There are three tasks for all Reformists for the 14th GE:

Firstly, to preserve and sustain the electoral support for reform from the Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan and Dayak voters for DAP and PKR in the 13th General Election;

Secondly, to reach out and win over the 3.5 million UMNO members and UMNO voters to support the Save Malaysia Campaign in the battle between “Democracy versus Kleptocracy”;

Thirdly, to reach out and win over the PAS members and voters to support the Save Malaysia Campaign to ensure the victory of democracy and the defeat of kleptocracy in the 14th General Election.

If we can achieve these three tasks in the 14GE, then Malaysia can be saved and we can look forward to a new dawn in Malaysia with institutional and systemic reforms to ensure that Malaysia will never return to the trajectory of a kleptocracy and a failed and rogue state.

I commend these three great tasks to the reformists who launched the mission for national reform 18 years ago in 1998 and who are gathered here today to re-energise, revitalise and renew the great journey for reform in Malaysia .

(Speech at the Konvensyen Reformis Malaysia 2017 at IDCC, Shah Alam, Selangor on Saturday, 25th February 2017)

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