Beware of the Ides of March – but who should beware?
The past 12 months have been a year never experienced by Malaysians who, with increasing desperation and sense of hopelessness, have never felt so sick and wracked by so many crisis, whether the RM55 billion 1MDB crisis, the RM2.6 billion “donation” crisis – or actually more, as according to the latest revelation by Wall Street Journal today, more than US$1 billion and not just US$681 million had been deposited into Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts - the 6% GST imposed on April 1; the worst racial and religious polarisation in the nation’s history with the unprecedented rise of extremism, intolerance and bigotry; the devaluation of the Malaysian ringgit hovering at RM4.2 to the US dollar; the plunge in Malaysia’s educational standards and accomplishments; Malaysia’s deterioration in important international indices with the country named No.3 in the world’s “worst corruption scandals in 2015” or falling four places in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2015; the loss of national and international confidence in the Prime Minister who is being investigated by US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) whether he is a “kleptocrat” with the 1MDB scandal the subject of investigations by seven foreign countries; the threat of a new “dictatorship” with parliamentary passage of the National Security Council Bill (which has as yet to receive the Royal Assent) and above all, the future and survival of the Merdeka Constitution of 1957 and the Malaysian federation formed in 1963!
Everywhere and every day, informed, concerned and patriotic Malaysians are asking: How did Malaysia reached such a sorry pass, when the country once dreamt of international greatness and accomplishments in various fields of human endeavor in our early decades of nationhood, and how Malaysia could get out of the rut or cul de sac we have stuck ourselves in.
I remember my speech to Malaysian students in Alexandria when DAP MPs made a fact-finding visit to Jordan and Egypt in April last year where I called for “new thinking, even thinking the unthinkable” about the unprecedented political landscape evolving in the country, with Malaysia in “No Man’s Land” where even the very existence of the Malaysian federation had been called into question for the first time since the formation of Malaysia in 1963.
It is in those abnormal political circumstances where the politics of the country seemed to have entered “no man’s land” that I had mooted the idea of a Grand Coalition - which I had then described as post-BN and post-PR - to “Save Malaysia”.
I had stressed that the proposed ‘Grand Coalition was not a ‘”Unity Government” like the UG concept of UMNO and PAS, but a completely different creature altogether.
It was to be a Grand Coalition of MPs from both sides of the political divide as well as both sides of the South China Sea, Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, to defend constitutionalism and rule of law with a new Prime Minister and a new Malaysian Government – going beyond the existing political parties.
The new Prime Minister can come from either side of the political divide who wants to Save Malaysia and defend the Federal Constitution and the rule of law, who can be a man or a woman.
I said that for such a Grand Coalition to work, it must meet also other criteria to be a viable and sustainable government, as for instance, being fully inclusive of all Malaysian races, religions and regions, in other words, a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-regional new Malaysian coalition government comprising Muslims and non-Muslims, Malays and non-Malays, and Malaysians from Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah.
Furthermore, it must have a visionary and forward-looking programme to restore Malaysia’s greatness and allow Malaysia to punch above its weight in many areas of human endeavour, whether political, economic, social, educational, sports, information technology or environmental – creating a clean, incorruptible government of excellence which upholds the rule of law and human rights.
I had then asked whether this idea of a Grand Coalition, going beyond the existing political parties, was a practical and achievable concept.
My question in Alexandria in April last year remain valid and relevant today.
I had made two further points in my speech in Alexandria last April – firstly, the release of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from Sungai Buloh prison to be back in the mainstream of Malaysian politics; and secondly, my preparedness to work with all like-minded Malaysians regardless of their past, including Tun Mahathir on a common agenda to “Save Malaysia” from roller-coaster policies which threaten to plunge Malaysia down the slippery slope, whether in nation-building, politics, economics, education or other aspects of national life to that of a failed state and a rogue state.
This is based on my belief that for the formidable task to “Save Malaysia”, we must be prepared to put our differences in the past to one side and concentrate all our energies on one common agenda, to save Malaysia from all centrifugal forces to tear the country asunder.
Much water has flowed under the bridge since my speech in Alexandria last April, but one thing is constant, the Malaysian “sickness” has further worsened and seemed to be terminal.
Almost every other day, there is bad news which only plunge national and international confidence to a new low – just in last few days, the sacking of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as UMNO Deputy Chairman after his sacking as Deputy Prime Minister together with Senior Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail; Muhuddin’s revelation that he was briefed of Najib’s “corruption” wrongdoing by the then Attorney-General, Gani Patail before he was sackied as Deputy Prime Minister; the revelation by the Minister in the Prime Minsiter’s Department, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said of the existence of a “charge sheet” in the Attorney-General’s chambers to indict Prime Minister Najib for corruption over the RM42 million SRC International scandal; the second quitting from UMNO by Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir and the Wall Street Journal’s latest revelation today that deposits into Najib’s personal bank accounts totaled more than US$1 billion and not just US681 million (RM2.6 billion) as earlier reported.
The question is whether the country ready for a “Save Malaysia” campaign which transcends race, religion, region, politics and individuals to stop the nation’s trajectory towards a failed and rogue state, involving a realignment of progressive and patriotic political forces to save Malaysia and to keep faith with the vision of an united, inclusive, moderate, democratic and prosperous Malaysia?
This a challenge facing all Malaysians today.
I have met and discussed with Mahathir on the current national situation as well as with Datuk Zaid Ibrahim about his March 27 initiative, both of which are encouraging developments to find a solution to the national cul de sac.
DAP will support all efforts to “Save Malaysia” as distinct from campaigns to “Save Najib” or “Save UMNO”.
I notice that one reaction to Mahathir’s second quitting of UMNO was UMNO Information Chief, Tan Sri Annuar Musa, who said that Mahathri was willing to sacrifice his own party in order to achieve his personal agenda.
I have no comment on this, but Annuar is probably the only politician in the country if not the world who could quote Shakespeare’s “It’s not that I love Caesar less, but I love Rome more” not once but thrice – first time in the early eighties, over the Mahathir-Musa rift, the second time over the UMNO expulsion of Anwar in early nineties, and now over Mahathir’s second quitting of UMNO.
Beware of the Ides of March – the question is who should beware?