Rafidah Aziz should head the National Goodwill Committee to restore racial peace and social harmony as well as Malaysia’s international image as a model of multi-racial nation and safe haven for foreign investors damaged by Red Shirts Malay rally on Sept. 16

Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, gender, age or even politics, must hold their heads in shame as the country acquires a new infamy in the international society.

As if we have not enough of shame and scandals which had seriously hurt the pride of Malaysians overseas, like the MH370 disappearance, the MH17 disaster, continued unsolved mystery of the motive for the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu and the blowing up of her body with military C4 explosives, the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal, the RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's personal banking accounts, Malaysia in the past 24 hours have acquired a new international infamy, a country of “anti-Chinese” demonstrations.

As a Malaysian, I feel very ashamed to read just now the Malaysiakini report “Overseas, red shirts rally seen as 'anti-Chinese demo'”, as follows:

“Several overseas Chinese-language media including Taiwan's Apple Daily, China Times, Hong Kong's Oriental Daily, Yahoo Hong Kong, ifeng.com, and China's Sohu.com, today reported the red shirts rally as 'anti-Chinese demonstrations'.

"'Anti-Chinese demonstrations burst again in Malaysia. More than 30,000 ethnic Malays go on streets to back Prime Minister Najib (Abdul Razak), who is now caught in a financial scandal, alleging the Chinese are aiming to topple the government.

"'Many protesters attempted to break into Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown, but were dispersed by the police's water cannons,'Apple Daily reported.

"'Many government officials and the ruling party's leaders also joined the rally.

"'Protesters called upon Malays to be united, and condemned ethnic Chinese party leaders who had initiated a large anti-Najib rally last month, which (the protesters claimed) was aimed at abolishing the special rights of Malays,' the newspaper added.

“China Times reported that ethnic tension has a long history in Malaysia, as anti-Chinese riots had taken place in 1964 and 1969, with the 1964 riots leading to Singapore leaving Malaysia for independence.

“Yahoo Hong Kong quoted from AFP, reporting a 23-year-old protester saying: 'The Malay lifestyle is being threatened now. We want to support Najib, a Malay, to warn the Chinese.'

“The news portal added this protester was brought from rural areas by Umno to join the rally.”

Malaysians and the world are reminded of the anti-Chinese riots in Indonesia in 1998 which led eventually to the fall of President Suharto and his government in Indonesia.

Is Malaysia heading in that direction of inter-racial strife, unrest and political turmoil?

Definitely not, or there would not have been a peaceful gathering of Malaysians, in hundreds of thousands, many times the size of the Red Shirts Sept. 16 Malay rally, just a fortnight ago, where Malaysians came together as one people, sehati sejiwa, regardless of race, religion, region, gender, age or politics, with a singleness of purpose and the common objective to demand for good governance and clean, free and fair elections.

The Bersih 4 overnight rally in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu represents the future and salvation of Malaysia where Malaysians transcend race, religion, region, gender age or even politics for a common national objective – a united, self-confident, harmonious, democratic, just, progressive and prosperous Malaysian nation to be a model for the rest of the world.

The Red Shirts Sept. 16 Malay Rally represents the past of race politics which could only end up with Malaysia as a failed state and a basket-case in international society.

A struggle for the soul and future of Malaysia is taking place.

Are Malaysians prepared to stand up for the future or will they harken to the calls of the discredited politics of race of the past?

The international image of anti-Chinese demonstrations in Malaysia is untrue and incorrect, as there is no Malay-Chinese conflict or confrontation, but a battle between the politics of the nation for the future versus the politics of race of the past.

Those who want to defend the politics of race of the past want to create the false image that Malaysia is being convulsed by a racial confrontation and conflict between the Malays and the Chinese so as to preserve the past pattern of politicking – and to destroy the politics of the nation of the future from surfacing and replacing the politics of race of the past.

Malays and Islam are not under threat in Malaysia, but desperate and bankrupt politicians want to prevent the new politics of the nation from being born by continuing to frame the politics of Malaysia in 2015 in the mould of the politics of race of the past, which patriotic and progressive Malaysians regardless of race, religion or region want to put behind us.

This is why I particularly welcome the statement by former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah who has joined past UMNO veterans like Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz in declaring that the Bersih 4 rally of August 29 and 30 was not a challenge to Malay political power and that Malays are not under threat.

Let us heed the advice of political veterans like Rafidah Aziz, who was Minister for International Trade and Industry for more than two decades, who urged the UMNO/BN government to stop the perpetuation of narrow-minded politics that prioritise one race over others, as it is jeopardising the country’s progress towards Vision 2020 and development as a whole.

Expressing relief that the Red Shirts Malay rally of Sept. 16 ended with little incident, barring the fire of water cannons in Petaling Street, Rafidah called on the government and all groups to get on with the programme to make Malaysia a success.

She stressed the utmost importance of the government not to “play politics” with “national unity” and to govern only for the sake of the people and the country.

Malaysians must be brave and realistic to acknowledge that the Sept. 16 Red Shirts Malay Rally marked the plunge of Malaysian race relations to the lowest point in the past 46 years since the May 13 riots of 1969, and that it had given Malaysia the worst possible international image as if Malaysia has taken over Indonesia as a country with “anti-Chinese demonstrations”.

Malaysian leaders, regardless of race, religion, region or politics must come together in a patriotic endeavour to heal the wounds to racial harmony and social peace and repair our international image as a model of a successful multi-racial nation which is a safe and steady haven for foreign investment caused by the Red Shirt Malay rally of Sept. 16.

For this reason, a National Goodwill Committee like the one formed after the May 13, 1969 riots to restore racial harmony and social peace in the country and our international image must be the top priority, and there is no more qualified candidate for the post of Chairman of the National Goodwill Committee to chart the country out of the present treacherous waters than Rafidah Aziz.

I would urge the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Ministers in their meeting next Wednesday to set up such a National Goodwill Committee with Rafidah Aziz as the Chairman, involving the participation of all patriotic Malaysians regardless of race, religion, region or politics, to take the nation back from the brink of the precipice which was the direction the Red Shirt Malay Rally of Sept. 16 wanted the nation to be heading.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah