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Call on government, political parties, NGOs and the civil society to commemorate the 50th National Day next year in a serious and meaningful manner to restore the lost rights of marginalized Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, class or territory and to avert Malaysia’s marginalization in the global economy instead of squandering tens of millions of ringgit in glitzy extravangza
(Ipoh Saturday) : The term “marginalization” has become the hottest topic in recent Malaysian public discourse – after Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s comment on the marginalization of the Chinese in Malaysia and the displeasure of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that Lee’s remark was hurtful and inciting.
However, what is conspicuously noticed by all is that Abdullah had never reprimanded Umno Youth deputy leader and his son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin for his earlier statement about the marginalization of the Malays in Penang like the Malays in Singapore.
In actual fact, it is not only the Chinese who are marginalized. The Orang Asli, Indians, Kadazans and Ibans are marginalized after nearly half-a-century of nationhood. The ordinary Malays are also marginalized by the Umno leaders who misused the New Economic Policy in the name of all bumiputras to create a small privileged group of parasitic and unproductive Umnoputras to hijack the great resources of the land.
The government is preparing to spend lavishly next year to celebrate the nation’s half-century of nationhood. The massive 50th National Day celebrations are not just to mark 50 years of independent nationhood, but there is also an ulterior motive to such celebrations.
Barisan Nasional election strategists see the 50th National Day celebrations as an opportunity to create a national sense of “feel good” among the people in the run-up to the 12th general election, hoping to create the “feel good” environment which enabled Abdullah to win the last general election with such an unprecedented landslide victory.
Abdullah has denied that there would be early general election because of the decision of the recent Umno Supreme Council to postpone Umno party election until after the next general.
Abdullah said that he had no reason to call for early election as he had a very big mandate in the March 2004 general election and he has “a lot of time to deliver what I promised to the people”.
Abdullah is right as far as having a “very big mandate” is concerned, as he had achieved what none of the other four previous Prime Ministers had done, securing over 91 per cent of the parliamentary seats.
However, all to no purpose, as Abdullah has dismally failed to deliver the many promises of reform in the past three years, whether to eradicate corruption and wipe out money politics in both general election and Umno party election; set up an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to create an efficient, incorruptible, professional world-class police to keep crime low and respect human rights or “to hear the truth” from the people by upholding a free press and the people’s right to freedom of information with the enactment of a Freedom of Information Act.
The big mandate won by Abdullah in the last general election had been wasted by his failure to “walk the talk”. China is in the international news for its anti-corruption campaign, with the sacking of the Shanghai Chinese Communist Party boss Chen Liangyu for corruption which is described as a “political earthquake” - but in Malaysia, the 18 high-profile “big fishes” had been allowed to escape scot-free into the South China Sea, with everyone in authority “closing one eye” or both eyes!
Nobody believes Abdullah when he said that the postponement of the Umno party election had nothing to do with early general election.
This is because one of the earliest to propose postponement of Umno party election scheduled next September was none other than Khairy Jamaluddin, who proposed in May this year that general election should be held first.
This call by the Umno Youth deputy leader had since been taken up by other Umno leaders, including the Umno Youth leader, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein before the Supreme Council decision at the end of last month.
The reasons given for the call for postponement of Umno party elections were always about the next general election and not to enable Umno leaders to focus on the Ninth Malaysia Plan.
If Abdullah is serious in his denial about any early general election because of his huge mandate, is he prepared to make a public commitment that his administration would serve for a minimum of at least four years? If so, with general election for next year ruled out completely, why should Umno party election be postponed when it would be held at least six months before the expiry of such a four-year term in March 2008?
On the eve of Malaysia’s half-century of independent nationhood, the nation is not only faced with the problem of the marginalization of the various groups and peoples in the country, the nation is also facing the problem of marginalization in the international economy as evident from the deteriorating problem of international competitiveness for Malaysia.
Whether in terms of more efficient public service delivery, the fight against corruption and crime or achieving educational excellence, we are going backwards rather forwards.
Last month, World Bank released its latest Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) 2006 report, and Malaysia fared worse as compared to 10 years ago in five of the six good governance indicators – voice and accountability, political stability and absence of violence, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law and control of corruption.
Malaysia’s ranking in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) had plunged from No. 23 in 1995 to No. 37 in 2003 when Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad stepped down as Prime Minister, but the decline continued in 2004 and 2005, falling to No. 39 in both years.
If the World Bank’s WGI on “control of corruption” reflects the latest position,
then Malaysia’s ranking in the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2006 may even from 39 to 52, as World Bank has found Malaysia to be in an even worse position than 12 countries which had been behind Malaysia in the TI CPI 2005, including Thailand!
Malaysia has lost out to Thailand in competing for FDI (foreign direct investment). We have lost out to Thailand in having the best university – as confirmed by the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) 2006 Ranking of the world’s best 200 universities, with Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University ranked higher than any Malaysian university for two years in succession. Now, Malaysia is in danger of losing out to Thailand even in “control of corruption” and upholding integrity!
Unless Malaysia makes a supreme effort to arrest this downward decline in international competitiveness and pull the country up by its bootstraps, we face the dire peril of being left behind by even our regional neighbours like Thailand, Vietnam and one day even Indonesia - heading for a future of national mediocrity and Third World status.
This is why I want to make an important and urgent call at this Tebing Tinggi ceramah tonight – to urge the government, political parties, NGOs and the civil society not to squander tens of millions of ringgit in glitzy extravangza such as on fireworks and banquets but to commemorate the 50th National Day next year in a serious and meaningful manner to restore the lost rights of marginalized Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, class or territory as well as to avert Malaysia from being progressively marginalized in the global economy.
Every organization and Malaysian should think of what can be done in the months leading up to the 50th National Day celebrations on August 31, 2007 to create greater awareness and harness public commitment on the urgent need to end both marginalization inside the country among Malaysians as well as of the nation externally in the international arena.
Before I end, I wish to announce the appointment of Ong Boon Piow, who is also DAP Tebing Tinggi Branch Secretary, as my assistant for my Tebing Tinggi
service centre in the Ipoh Timur parliamentary constituency.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman