Malaysian Dream Phase 2 – Call on Malaysians, regardless of political party, race, religion, region, gender or age to unite and stand up as patriots and moderates of Malaysia to practise the politics of inclusion to save the country from extremism, intolerance and bigotry
When I contested Gelang Patah in May last year in the 13th General Elections, it was in pursuit of the Malaysian Dream which envisions Malaysia as a plural society where all her citizens are united as one people, rising above their ethnic, religious, cultural, linguistic and regional differences as the common grounds binding them as one citizenship exceeds the differences that divide them because of their ethnic, religious, linguistic, cultural and regional divisions.
Nineteen months after the 13th General Elections, the Malaysian Dream is more relevant and even more important than ever.
The UMNO General Assembly in the last week of November is the classic example of the divisive and deleterious politics of exclusion in Malaysia, which emphasises and deepens the differences among Malaysians especially over race and religion, which will even condemn Malaysia to the fate of a failed state if these trends are not checked and arrested, with worsening disunity and greater racial and religious polarisation as happened in the past 19 months since the 13GE.
In the UMNO General Assembly, as well as at the various conferences running up to it, Malaysians saw the worst examples of the politics of fear, hate and lies, creating imaginary fears and fighting imaginary enemies – that the Malays and Islam are under threat, that the Chinese are out to grab the political power of the Malays, that ”if UMNO loses, Malays may never rule again”, that the Malays have become slaves in their own land, that the Malays could suffer a fate similar to Red Indians in the United States and the “mother of all lies”, that the Chinese in Kedah burnt the Quran “page by page during a prayer ritual”.
But when I challenged the three remaining UMNO Prime Ministers, Tun Mahathir who was the longest fourth PM of Malaysia for 22 years from 1981 to 2003, Tun Abdullah who was the fifth Prime Minister for five years five months and Datuk Seri Najib Razak who has been Prime Minister for five years eight months to explain how Malays and Islam in Malaysia could be under threat and faced a life-and-death struggle after 57 years of UMNO government and six UMNO Prime Ministers, and specifically, after 33 years of Mahathir, Abdullah and Najib as Prime Minister, there was total and absolute silence!
If after 57 years of UMNO government under six UMNO Prime Ministers, Malays and Islam in Malaysia could be under siege and facing unprecedented life-and-death struggle, is UMNO and its propagandists implying that the 57-year UMNO government with six UMNO PMs had been total and abject failures?
If they are not implying that 57 years of UMNO government under six UMNO Prime Ministers were complete failures, then it is downright reckless, irresponsible and even anti-national to try to incite fear and hate among Malays and Muslims by trying to make them believe and fear that Malays and Islam are under siege in Malaysia today!
This is a question not just Malays but all Malaysians should be asking, demanding answers from the UMNO/BN Ministers, leaders and representatives whether Malays and Islam are under attack, if so, who are the “enemies” attacking Malays and Islam; and if not, why are UMNO/BN political parties and leaders so reckless, irresponsible and anti-national as to try to create such imaginary fears among the people or condone such dirty and despicable political tactics?
All non-Malays and non-Muslims felt that they were at the receiving end of the extremist, immoderate and intolerant fulminations, based on race and religion, at the UMNO General Assembly.
In fact, the politics of exclusion in the recent UMNO General Assembly not only proved that UMNO has ceased to be a party for all Malaysians, it is not a party for all Malays but only the UMNO leaders and their cronies who have political and financial axes to grind.
The real issues of Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, political party, region, gender or age – the issues of good governance, accountability, transparency; democracy and human rights; their standards and cost of living; zero-tolerance for corruption as the basis of an anti-corruption campaign; the growing disparity of income and wealth between the haves and have-nots; a competitive economic system; or reforms to ensure world-class education system whether at primary, secondary or university level – were not addressed
Malaysia needs a new politics – the politics of inclusion to unite and inspire all Malaysians, regardless of party politics, race, religion, region, gender or age united in a common Malaysian dream which is not regarded or perceived as anti-Malay, anti-Chinese, anti-Indian, anti-Kadazan, anti-Iban or anti-Muslim, anti-Buddhist, anti-Christian, anti-Hindu, anti-Sikh or anti-woman or anti-youth as it must be totally and unconditionally pro-Malaysian.
This is particularly challenging today as extremist, immoderate and intolerant voices and forces have reared their ugly heads and stolen a march against the moderates – which have undermined the decades of racial and religious harmony, understanding and goodwill in the country.
The Open Letter two days ago by 25 prominent Malays whom I would describe as Towering Malay/Malaysians comprising retired senior civil servants including former Secretaries-General, Directors-General, ambassadors and prominent Malay individuals who have contributed much to Malaysian society is a major milestone in the history of Malaysian nation-building.
The Prime Minister, Najib Razak has been travelling the world in the past four years to call for a coalition of moderates from all religions “to reclaim their religion and pursue the path to peace” to isolate the extremists of all religions; but his five-year premiership at home has been characterised by his political failure and cowardice to rally to the side of the moderates in Malaysia to isolate and defeat the fringe extremists who have become increasingly aggressive in their extremism, immoderation and intolerance as illustrated by the recent UMNO General Assembly, which had been hijacked and converted into a showpiece for the divisive and deleterious Politics of Exclusion in Malaysia.
The concern of the 25 prominent Malay personalities of the “impact of such vitriolic rhetoric on race relations and political stability of this country” reflects the increasing concerns of the overwhelming majority of Malaysians – the Silent Majority of moderates in Malaysia.
The time has come for the Silent Majority of moderate Malaysians to speak up and to support the Politics of Inclusion to reject the Politics of Exclusion perpetrated by the fringe extremists of race and religion.
For this reason, I want to use the Gelang Patah DAP dinner tonight to announce the second phase of the Malaysian Dream spearheaded by the Battle of Gelang Patah in the 13th General Elections – and to call for a coalition of Malaysian moderates, regardless of political party, race, religion, region, gender or age to unite and stand up as patriots and moderates of Malaysia to practise the politics of inclusion and save the country from extremism, intolerance and bigotry of the practitioners of the Politics of Exclusion.
There is no reason why the ordinary members of Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional, including from UMNO, MCA, Gerakan, MIC and the Sabah and Sarawak BN parties, cannot unite with the ordinary members of DAP, PKR and PAS as a coalition of Malaysian moderates to isolate and defeat the voices and forces of extremism, intolerance and bigotry to save Malaysia so that we can be a model to the world of the Politics of Inclusion in a plural society.