Open Letter to the Prime Minister and the
Cabinet by Lim Kit Siang on Tuesday, 2nd September 2008:
First post-Permatang Pauh by-election
Cabinet meeting tomorrow - an acid test whether Barisan Nasional
government has learnt the lessons of the two "political tsunamis" in six
YAB Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister,
YB-YB Cabinet Ministers,
Ten challenges which the Cabinet must address tomorrow to demonstrate
that it has learnt the lessons of the two political tsunamis in six
I believe the overwhelming majority of Malaysians have one common
reaction when they read or learnt of the news of the announcement by
Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukudu of his sudden resignation yesterday
– when Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is going to resign as Malaysian
Prime Minister despite his earlier announcement of the power-transition
schedule in June 2010.
This may be unfair but this is a fact. Why is this so when four short
years ago, the Prime Minister had won the country’s biggest mandate in
the 2004 general election winning an unprecedented 91 per cent
This was one of my thoughts when I hiked up Penang Hill “48” this
morning, which I had not done for a very very long time. The hour hike
up and down Penang Hill “48” provided me with a very conducive
atmosphere to think about the multiple crisis of confidence afflicting
Malaysia – political, economic, educational, judicial, institutional and
The idea to pen this Open Letter also came from this hike as the Cabinet
meeting tomorrow is the first one after the Permatang Pauh by-election,
presenting an acid test whether Barisan Nasional government has learnt
the lessons of the two “political tsunamis” in six months to save the
country from the multiple crisis of confidence confronting the nation.
There are at least ten challenges which the Cabinet must address
1. Ahmad Ismail’s racist remarks
The Cabinet must sternly and unanimously censure the Bukit Bendera Umno
chief, Datuk Ahmad Ismail for his offensive, insensitive, derogatory and
racist remarks about the Malaysian Chinese during the Permatang Pauh
By referring to the Chinese as pendatang, orang tumpang and totally
untrustworthy Malaysians, and going into hiding after making the
offensive and racist remarks, Ahmad had spoilt the 51st Merdeka
anniversary celebrations and sabotaged the Prime Minister’s 51st
National Day Message calling on every Malaysian to give importance to
solidarity, as “it is the cornerstone of the country’s political
stability, social harmony and economic competitiveness”.
The Prime Minister has also caused great dismay and distress among
right-thinking Malaysians as he has chosen to demonstrate his
“solidarity” with Ahmad when he should be an exemplar for Bangsa
Is there any Cabinet Minister who is prepared to point out tomorrow that
the Prime Minister’s response in condoning Ahmad’s racists remarks is
weak, unworthy and unacceptable?
The Prime Minister’s statement: “I will tell him not to do it again…. I
don’t think he meant it. I’ll make sure to tell him not to use it again”
raises many questions.
It means that the Prime Minister had neither met, discussed nor
reprimanded Ahmad or he would not have used to future tense of “I will
tell him not to do it again”.
How can Abdullah ensure that such offensive, insensitive, derogatory and
racist language would not be used again when even in Parliament
recently, Umno MPs could hurl racist abuses like “Balik Cina” without
any censure by UMNO or BN leadership?
Or shouldn’t the Ahmad Ismail furore be raised and discussed in the
Cabinet at all? In that case, let the Cabinet explain its double
standards in rejecting the apology of Wee Meng Chee for the “Negaraku”
rap video-clip just before the 50th Merdeka anniversary last year, with
Umno Ministers competing with each other to demand all sorts of
penalties including stripping him of his citizenship as compared to the
case of Ahmad Ismail!
2. Declare Malaysia Day on Septembert 16 as a national public holiday
Sabah and Sarawak have suddenly become very important after the March 8
“political tsunami”, not so much to end the long-standing neglect and
marginalisation of the rights of the people of Sabah and Sarawak as
distinct from those of the leaders of Barisan Nasional in the two states
but to ensure the survival of the Barisan Nasional power structure at
the federal level.
This is just not good enough as the people of Sabah and Sarawak feel
being made used of just to perpetutate the vested interests of the
Barisan Nasional in Kuala Lumpur, without any change of heart by the
Barisan Nasional leaders.
After 45 years, the people of Sabah and Sarawak must be made to feel
that they are an integral part of the Malaysian federation with the
Cabinet taking the first step in declaring Malaysia Day on September 16
as a national public holiday with effect from this year.
3. Commitment to establish IPCMC by end of the year
Despite increased budget allocations for the police, Malaysians today
feel even more unsafe whether in the streets, public places or the
privacy of their homes compared to five years ago when Datuk Seri
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became Prime Minister.
In Pasir Pinji in my parliamentary constituency of Ipoh Timur, there is
a reign of fear following a sudden spate of violent thefts leaving the
residents and the petty trading community worry for their lives.
This is not an isolated development in Ipoh but represents a worsening
situation of law and order in the country, which has made Malaysia
unsafe and insecure for its citizens, visitors and investors.
So far there is no political will to fully implement the recommendations
of the Royal Police Commission, including the establishment of an
Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to
create an efficient, incorruptible, professional world-class police
service to keep crime low.
Let the Cabinet make a policy decision tomorrow to establish the IPCMC
by the end of the year.
4. Restoration of an independent, impartial, professional and
The Cabinet has failed Malaysians in failing to set up a Judicial
Appointments Commission to restore national and international confidence
in the independence, impartiality, integrity and meritocracy of the
There must be a Cabinet commitment that although such a Judicial
Appointments Commission has not yet been set up, the Prime Minister will
respect and follow the spirit of consultation intended in such a
judicial reform when appointing the next Chief Justice as the current
Chief Justice of Malaysia Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad will retire on 17th
The Prime Minister and the Cabinet must be forewarned that it does not
serve the cause of justice or the nation if the country is plunged into
a new judicial crisis because of the appointment of the first Umno Chief
Justice in the nation’s history in utter disregard of a proper
consultation with the relevant stakeholders such as the Bar Council, the
Parliamentary Opposition and the civil society, and in keeping with the
principles of accountability, transparency and good governance.
This Open Letter to the Prime Minister and Cabinet is still a
work-in-progress. However, because of time factor, I am making public
the first four of the ten challenges to give time for deliberation by
the Cabinet while the rest of the Open Letter would be finalized and
released before the end of the day.
This is one beauty of the Internet era of instant communication and
there is no reason why Malaysians should not fully make use of such
facilities opened up by the information age.
5. Zero tolerance for corruption
Let the Cabinet declare a new National Integrity Plan objective of zero
tolerance for corruption – with Malaysia ranked among the top 10
countries which are least corrupt in the world.
Although there is a flurry of arrests by the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA),
Malaysians are reminded of the earlier flurry of ACA activities in the
first few months of the new Abdullah premiership which finally fizzled
out into nothing – with Malaysia’s ranking in the annual Transparency
International Corruption Perception Index plunging from No. 37 in 2003
to No. 43 in 2007.
Are the Prime Minister and Cabinet prepared to give full liberty and
authority to the ACA to fight corruption even against Cabinet Ministers,
Chief Ministers, Mentri-Menteri Besar and top Barisan Nasional leaders
without getting any greenlight from the Prime Minister?
6. End the brain drain
Is the Cabinet prepared to admit that one fatal mistake of our
nation-building policy which has led to our diminishing international
competitiveness and why Malaysia has lost out to South Korea, Taiwan,
Hong Kong and Singapore in the past half-a-century and continuing to
trail behind more and more countries is injustice and discrimination
meted out to the best and brightest talents driving them overseas.
Is the Cabinet prepared to end this crippling denial syndrome to end the
brain drain of the best and brightest talents overseas – in particular
stemming the brain-drain to Singapore by reinstating the principle of
meritocracy and ensuring that Malaysia’s best and brightest, regardless
of race, can get the best educational and employment opportunities in
their own country?
7. Admit failure of Malaysias education and higher education policies
Just refer to the advertorial of Universiti Tun Hussein Onn published in
the New Straits Times of August 23, page 43 to commemorate the
conferment of an honorary PhD in Education on Raja Zarith Sofiah if
anyone still have any doubts of the failure of the Malaysian education
system, whether primary, secondary or tertiary.
It is not just about the “murder” or may be more appropriate term
“sodomy” of the English language but reflects the utter sense of
irresponsibility of the educational authorities which could see Malaysia
plunging from a nation with internationally-recognised high standards of
English language to one where we can only hold our heads in shame.
The international repute of Malaysian universities have suffered similar
Is the Cabinet prepared to take a policy decision that Malaysian
universities should rank among the best in the world – with at least two
among the World’s Top 100 and another two in the list of the World’s
next Top 100. In other words, at least four Malaysian Universities among
the World’s Top 200 Universities?
8. Usher in a new era of democracy and human
Is the Cabinet prepared to initiate action to usher in a new era of
democracy and human rights with the repeal of draconian and undemocratic
laws which violate human rights such as Internal Security Act, Official
Secrets Act, Sedition Act, Printing Presses and Publications Act and the
Neither the Prime Minister, the Home Minister or any other Cabinet
Minister has been able to explain why government has rejected the
proposal for the establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee on
the DNA bill, raising questions about the government commitment to
create a first-world Parliament.
Is Cabinet prepared to demonstrate its seriousness to far-reaching
parliamentary reforms including the establishment of a parliamentary
select committee whereby every Ministry would be shadowed by a Select
10. Bangsa Malaysia and Ketuanan Rakyat
Finally, is the Cabinet prepared to totally revamp government
nation-building policies in accordance with the concept and vision of
Bangsa Malaysia, highlighting the principle of Ketuanan Rakyat and not
Ketuanan Melayu, Ketuanan Cina, Ketuanan India, Ketuanan Dayak or
Lim Kit Siang
DAP Parliamentary Leader &
MP for Ipoh Timor
Kit Siang, DAP
Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor