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  Speech by Lim Kit Siang n Parliament on the Ninth Malaysia Plan Mid-Term Review on Tuesday, 1st July 2008: 

Barisan Nasional has not learnt the lessons of the March 8 "political tsunami" to be a government that inspires unity than foments disunity among Malaysians of diverse races, languages, cultures and religions

The heading of one blog today, BN's Credibility to Rule Disappearing by the day!, reflects the feelings of increasing number of Malaysians that although the Barisan Nasional had survived the political tsunami in the March general election, it has not learnt any lesson at all.

The post-general election claim by the Prime Minister that he has finally heard the voice of the people is not true at all.

This is best reflected by the first 100 days after the March 8 general election, where at the state level, the five state governments under the Pakatan Rakyat becomes more stronger and more consolidated while in contrast, at the national level, the second Abdullah premiership seems to be tottering from Day One, under siege in Umno and Barisan Nasional internally as well as externally.

Although the March 8 general election suffered a historic defeat in losing its hitherto unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority, it still enjoys a strong 58-seat majority with its 140 MPs against 82 from Pakatan Rakyat.

In other democracies, a ruling coalition with a 58-seat majority in Parliament would be as safe and fit as a fiddle. Why is this not the case in Malaysia?

This highlights the abnormality of the Malaysian democratic process, the importance of the political tsunami of March 8 general election to start the long and hard process to make Malaysia a normal democratic country with the end of two-thirds parliamentary majority for the ruling coalition and the dismantling of the arsenal of draconian and undemocratic laws, unaccountable and corrupt governance and the creation of a united and forward-looking Bangsa Malaysia by returning to Malaysians their fundamental democratic rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Merdeka Constitution of 1957.

Where are the evidence that the Barisan Nasional government has learnt the lessons of the March 8 political tsunami and has begun to be more an unifier than divider of Malaysians, more Malaysian-centric and less communalistic, more democratic, fair and just to be a government of all Malaysians than just half the population in the country?

In other words, a government that inspires unity rather than foments disunity among Malaysians of diverse races, languages, cultures and religions.

The Ninth Malaysia Plan Mid-Term Review is a good illustration. The 120-page 9MP MTR is the slimmest of all Five-Year Plan mid-term review documents, with some previous Mid-Term Reviews like that of the Eighth Malaysia Plan review running into four times the length of the 9MP MTR of over 500 pages. Is it because there is very little to say and inspire Malaysians in the 9MP MTR?

When the Ninth Malaysia Plan was launched in Parliament in March 2006, it was hailed as a historic document finally delivering the Prime Minister's reform pledge and programme which at the time had been stalled for 30 months or to quote the words of an MP in the present Parliament, "a blueprint not merely for the next five years, but for the next few decades", and that the Prime Minister "has set in motion reforms that will reverberate for generations to come".

In the event, the Ninth Malaysia Plan had not "reverberated" for a single day! This person had even written in the article "From short-term lucre to long-term wealth" that the Ninth Malaysia Plan would not see "the return of the gravy train" but I do not think there would be much disagreement if he is described as the "driver" of the RM220 billion (now increased to RM250 billion under the MTR) "gravy train" as to become the world's richest unemployed creating a new class of the bumiputra wealthy at the expense of both the bumiputra and non-bumiputra poor.

I am on record as saying during the debate on the Ninth Malaysia Plan on 3rd April 2006 that this was not the case, as apart from a lot of hype, most Malaysians could not see how the Ninth Malaysia Plan could make any difference in their lives from previous five-year plans as to become a national agenda or national mission for all Malaysians!

The March 2008 general election has not only proved me right, but it went further as it was a decisive vote by Malaysians against the Ninth Malaysia Plan as failing to come to grips with the dreams and aspirations of Malaysians to have an united, just, democratic, prosperous and progressive Malaysia.

In these circumstances, one would have thought that the 9MP MTR would be the most important document of the second Abdullah administration to demonstrate that it has heard loud and clear the message of the voters in the March general election as well as its political will and commitment to carry out comprehensive reforms to usher in good and effective governance.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Instead, Parliament and the country was treated to an afterthought by the Cabinet requiring the Deputy Prime Minister yesterday to take the extraordinary step to supplement the speech of the Prime Minister when tabling the 9MP MTR in Parliament last Thursday publicly demonstrating that the Prime Minister's speech was not as adequate and comprehensive as it should have been.

What evidence are there in the past four months, the message of the March 8 "political tsunami" has been fully heard and understood by the Barisan Nasional government?

What we have are rhetoric but precious little action and results.

First, nation-building. What proactive actions have the government taken to forge greater unity among Malaysians from diverse races, languages, cultures, religions and territories?

It is most shocking that after half-a-century of nationhood and the great government's expenditures at nation-building, including the billions of ringgit recently spent on National Service, a Barisan Nasional state legislator in Perak could utter the highly racist, insensitive and offensive statement that when you meet an Indian and a snake, you hit the Indian first!

If the Umno elected representatives could be so racist and insensitive, what is the future for Malaysian nation-building?

What have the MIC Ministers and leaders been doing in the past 50 years in the Barisan Nasional and previously Alliance? No wonder there is the phenomenon of Makkal Sakti from last year, the expression of sheer outrage and despair by the Malaysian Indian community at their long-standing discrimination and marginalisation in the Malaysian political, economic, educational, social and cultural scheme of things resulting in Parliament not having a single MIC backbencher!

The second illustration that the past four months were lost months in national healing were some of the speeches in Parliament yesterday, attacking the Bar Council for its forum on social contract.

What has happened to Malaysia where advocacy of Article 11 of the Constitution on freedom of religion is regarded as an attack on Islam as the official religion while a forum on social contract is regarded as an attack on ketuanan Malayu and therefore anti-national?

Even more shocking is the agreement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that there is no need for any debate on the "social contract" as it will create animosity!

Has Malaysia become a more open society or heading in the opposite direction when more and more issues are being regarded as "sensitive issues" which should not be discussed and swept under the carpet?

On the one hand, there are strident calls for ketuanan Melayu, even kedaulatan Melayu, when this is clearly against the Merdeka social contract, a quid pro quo bargain reached by the major communities that Malaysia is a democratic, secular, plural society with Islam as the official religion where racial differences are recognised and diversity encouraged, with affirmative policies to help the socio-economically backward groups; on the other hand, there are increasing demands for the issue of the "social contract" to be removed from the domain of public discussion.

Hasn't the proper lesson been drawn over the wielding of the Malay keris by the Umno Youth leader, Hishammuddin at previous Umno Youth general assemblies, which even Umno national leaders have attributed as an major factor for Barisan Nasional's electoral debacle in the March general election?

Are the leaders of MCA, Gerakan, MIC and other BN component parties prepared to take a strong stand that the Merdeka social contract is the basis for the Vision 2020 for a Bangsa Malaysia leading to "ketuanan rakyat" for all Malaysians which is the very antithesis of ketuanan Melayu or kedaulatan Melayu?

Or have the MCA, Gerakan, MIC and other BN component parties to acquiesce with such communalistic utterances and approaches, both inside and outside Parliament, proving the truth of the confession by former Gerakan President and Minister, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik that Umno does not accord equal status to the other BN component parties reducing MCA, Gerakan, MIC and others to what he described as "beggar politics" with Umno in Barisan Nasional?

Is this the reason why the MCA President, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, has stayed out of the Cabinet after the March general election and announced that he would not seek re-election as MCA President because he sees no hope in changing the "beggar politics" position of MCA in Barisan Nasional which is also the opinion of MCA leaders as expressed in the media?


* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor