Najib’s “well done” for the darkest hour in Malaysia in 46 years after the May 13 1969 racial riots highlights the widening gulf between ordinary Malaysians and the UMNO/BN leadership

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s praise of “well done” for the darkest hour in Malaysia in 46 years after the May 13, 1969 racial riots - the Red Shirts Sept. 16 Rally - highlights the widening gulf between ordinary Malaysians regardless of whether Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans and the small coterie of UMNO/BN leadership.

Apart from the 45,000 “Red Shirts” who were bused into Kuala Lumpur from all over Peninsular Malaysia in some 2,000 buses, Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, age, gender or politics are ashamed of the Red Shirts “Kebangkitan Maruah Melayu” rally in Kuala Lumpur on Sept. 16, which desecrated the 52nd Malaysia Day when the day should be an occasion for all Malaysians to strengthen national integration and counter the divisive and centrifugal forces seeking the division and disintegration of the nation.

Sept. 16 should be a day of solidarity for the reaffirmation of the unity, integrity and sovereignty of Malaysia at two levels – firstly, of the diverse races, religions, languages and cultures which have come together to make Malaysia their home and an “Instant Asia” and secondly, the union of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak into a new nation in South-east Asia in 1963 by smoothing out the knots and kinks of nationhood in the past five decades – in particular the legitimate grievances felt by Sarawakians and Sabahans about their neglect and underdevelopment in the past half century.

Instead, Sabah and Sabah were virtually forgotten on Sept. 16 as national and international attention riveted on the Red Shirt “Kebangkitan Maruah Melayu” in Kuala Lumpur, and the thoughts of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his Cabinet were on the Red Shirts rally although they were physically in Kota Kinabalu that day – when they should be focusing on the issues and challenges of devolution and decentralization of powers from Putrajaya to Sabah and Sarawak with more autonomy in various jurisdictions for the two states.

Since becoming the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia in April 2009, Najib had spent hundreds of millions of ringgit on an army of foreign publicists and “image makers” to create a super persona for himself, both locally and in the international society.

But these super-paid PR experts failed to convey to the Prime Minister to most simple rule of “public relations” – not to defend the indefensible.

This is the fatal mistake which Najib committed, not once but twice, yesterday.

Earlier yesterday, in an audio clip uploaded on his blog, Najib sought to justify the green light his government gave to the “red shirt” rally on Wednesday, after the international media highlighted it as an “anti-Chinese demonstration”.

Najib said unlike the Bersih 4 rally, which he had earlier denounced as “shallow-minded” and “demo-crazy”, the September 16 Red-Shirts Rally had no intention of toppling the government.

He said despite being declared illegal, the authorities did not stop Bersih 4 from taking place on August 29 and 30.

Najib should not take Malaysians or the international community for fools or simpletons as to believe that Bersih 4 was a people’s uprising ala Tahrir Square in Cairo in the Arab Spring for the toppling of Najib as Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The Bersih 4 rally had five objectives, viz:

  • Free and Fair Elections.
  • A Transparent Government.
  • The Right to Demonstrate.
  • Strengthening the Parliamentary Democracy System.
  • Saving the Economy of Malaysia.

Although the Bersih 4 organisers called for Najib’s resignation for his failure to come clean on the twin mega-scandals of RM50 billion 1MDB and RM2.6 billion “foreign donation” in his personal banking accounts, there was absolutely no plan, thought or intention to “topple” Najib as Prime Minister by any undemocratic, unconstitutional or violent means except by way of a “no confidence” motion against Najib.

In the pre-Internet era, it was possible for the powers-that-be to turn black into white and white into black because of their monopoly of the information process and absolute control of the printed media.

But this is no more possible in the Internet era where information travels at the speed of light on the social media.

Apart from the Luddites and the unthinking hard-core UMNO/BN members and supporters, it is no more possible for the powers-that-be to dictate the contents and meaning of public debate, such as insisting on the myth of Bersih 4 out to “topple” Najib by undemocratic, unconstitutional or violent means; that Bersih 4 was master-minded by DAP or that the Bersih 4 overnight rally was an entirely Chinese affair!

Former Malacca Chief Minster and one-time Prime Minister-aspirant Tan Sri Ali Mohd Rustam who finally took responsibility for the Sept. 16 Red Shirts rally in his capacity as head of the Persekutuan Silat Kebangsaan Malaysia (Pesaka) justified the rally on the ground that the past four Bersih rallies had dishonoured the Malay leadership.

It has been estimated there were 80% Malays and 15% Chinese in Bersih 1 on Nov. 10, 2007, 70% Malays and 25% Chinese in Bersih 2 on July 9, 2011 and 60% Malays and 35% Chinese in Bersih 3 on April 28, 2012.

On 29th August 2015, the first day of Bersih 4, Chinese predominated but on the second day on 30th August 2015, Malay participants increased to easily some 40% of the crowd with the Chinese representing some 55%.

With Malays clearly predominating in Bersih 1, 2 and 3, how did these three Bersih rallies from 2007 to 2012 challenged Malay rights and dignity? Can Ali Rustam explain?

It is precisely because of the advent of Internet and the information era that holds out hope and promise that the UMNO leadership cannot continue to indoctrinate and brainwash Malaysians, particularly Malays in the rural areas, into accepting UMNO myths and lies as truths and facts.

The Red Shirts “Kebangkitan Maruah Melayu” on Sept. 11 was a failure as compared to the Bersih 4 overnight rally of August 29/30.

Unlike the Red Shirts rally, hundreds of thousands of Malaysians regardless of race, religion, region, gender, age or politics took part in the Bersih 4 overnight rally in a carnival of democracy and human rights, coming together transcending race, religion and region, in a common national cause for good governance, accountability and integrity.

In contrast, the Red Shirts Rally, though in the name of the Malay race, really represented only a minority of the Malays, who are the diminishing UMNO and pro-UMNO elements who have a vested interest to defend Najib as Prime Minister – who stand for a losing cause as the Red Shirts Rally dispersed after less than five hours although it was bruited as a 10-hour event, in contrast to the 34-hour Bersih 4 overnight rally which lasted to the very last second on the midnight of August 30;

The second mistake Najib made last night was when he spoke to the National Silat Merdeka Gathering at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur and returned to the Sept. 16 Red Shirts rally, praising the red shirts for having “done very well to gather peacefully and without any provocation”, claiming that there were no banners which promoted hatred to other races although such slogans of hate and lies had been captured, reported and immortalized on the online news portals.

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.

More and more Malaysians at all levels are speaking up for 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.

This is why the Johor prince Tunku Idris Sultan Ibrahim’s Instagram expressing revulsion for ethnic bigotry is so well received not only by the people of Johor but also in Malaysia.

The Johor prince is right when he declared that “racism and its hateful language have no place” in the country and that “Racism is a refuge for the ignorant. It seeks to divide and destroy”.

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.

The following comment from a reader of one of the news portals gave a most apposite rebuttal to those who want to panic Malays and Muslims into believing that their race and faith are under siege:

“To an outsider watching the rally, they would have thought the government, military, sultans, bureaucracy are all in the hand of the Chinese and thus the red shirt protest.

“It is so strange, for the Malays control almost everything and yet they are shouting they are ‘victims’.”

I had yesterday suggested the revival of a National Goodwill Committee (such a body was formed after the May 13, 1969 riots) headed by former Minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz to heal the wounds to racial harmony and social peace and repair the damage to our international image as a safe and steady haven for foreign investment caused by the Red Shirt Malay rally of Sept. 16.

Will the Cabinet next Wednesday dare to take up this proposal of a revival of a National Goodwill Committee, where other eminent Malaysians like spokesperson of G25 Eminent Malays, Datuk Noor Faridah Ariffin, Sabah representative Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, Sarawak representative Datuk Seri Daniel Tajem and jurists like Datuk Ambiga Sreenivan and Yeoh Yan Poh can make contributions to prevent Malaysia from hurtling towards a rogue and failed state because of a disunited and divided citizenry?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah