Call for Anwar Ibrahim’s release from Sungai Buloh prison to take part, like Nelson Mandela in South Africa in 1990, in national reconciliation talks to Save Malaysia from becoming a failed and rogue state

There have both been bouquets and brickbats following 304 (March 4) historic gathering on the signing and proclamation of the Citizens’ Declaration involving former Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir, former Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, former Cabinet Ministers and Opposition and civil society leaders.

Undoubtedly, the Citizens’ Declaration on Friday had come as a total surprise and shock to many, including journalists whose profession is to smell out trends and news breaking stories, who would never imagine as possible such a get-together of long-time political opponents for a common cause.

I thank all for the bouquets and even welcome the brickbats, provided they are honest views and not pure venom soaked in lies and spite.

Can the Citizens’ Declaration to Save Malaysia calling on Datuk Seri Najib Razak to step down as Prime Minister and for democratic and institutional reforms succeed?

To be frank, I do not think anybody can answer that question in all sincerity. But to Save Malaysia from becoming a failed and a rogue state is a deserving, honourable and honest objective which is worth trying to achieve and even failing, instead of not trying at all.

I have just come from Publika Mall in Kuala Lumpur, where relatives and friends of the 239 passengers and crew of the ill-fated MH370 observed a heart-wrenching two-year remembrance of the aviation disaster on March 8, 2014 when the Peking-bound MAS flight virtually disappeared into thin air, defying a two-year international search of the Indian Ocean.

The relatives and friends of the 239 passengers and crew of MH370 want the authorities to “Never Give Up” and the search to continue until the truth about the missing MH370 is revealed – an appeal we must all support.

But one question which had bugged me was why the international MH 370 search mission was not led by Malaysia, but instead of by Australia, when the subject of this tragedy is a Malaysian airliner.

This is another example of how Malaysia had lost our rightful place in the global stage, suffering a diminished international esteem and accomplishments when what should have been a natural and automatic choice, i.e. Malaysia leading the international search mission for MH370, is also surrendered and replaced by an Australian-led search mission.

This is only one of the many fields of human endeavour where Malaysia has lost out since the start of our nationhood some six decades ago – missing out to be one of the Asian economic tigers; our universities plunging from world-class rankings to very mundane levels; our primary and secondary schools falling from international grades to the bottom third of international rankings; degeneration from being a global show-case for successful multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-lingual nation-building to a basket case with increasing racial and religious polarization – from an era of “Malaysia Boleh” to “Malaysia Tak Boleh”.

Even in the field of sports, Malaysians are reminded by the popular film “Ola Bola” of our national descent from a great Asian football nation in the early decades of nationhood to No. 171 in Fifa soccer rankings.

This is why the historic 304 (March 4) Citizens’ Declaration gathering on Friday is so important, as it served as a vehicle for the expression of patriotism of Malaysians to Save Malaysia from hurtling towards a failed and a rogue state by demanding the removal of Datuk Seri Najib as Prime Minister and far-reaching democratic and institutional reforms.

The 304 Citizens’ Declaration has evoked both new hopes as well as old scorns.

While many see new hopes in the Citizens’ Declaration as the first step to stop the rot in Malaysia and the joining of all patriotic forces in the country, regardless of race, religion, region, politics, age and gender to unite on a common national agenda to Save Malaysia from becoming a failed and a rogue state, there are also those who moved by old scorns as they do not see any likelihood of success for the Citizens’ Declaration movement, and there are those who attribute the basest and most dishonorable motives for those associated with the Citizens’ Declaration.

I have even been accused of being opportunistic and totally bereft of political principles in appearing with Tun Mahathir.

I have even been asked whether I still hate Mahathir.

One should not be too personal in politics and the question of personal hatred and vendetta should not intrude into the picture.

That is why I had never hated Mahathir or anybody else.

I have had a lot of differences with Mahathir in the past few decades. He was responsibe for my second detention under the ISA and Guan Eng’s first ISA detention under Operation Lalang in 1987.

Guan Eng and I were among the first to be detained in the Operation Lalang dragnet on Oct. 27, 1987, and we were the last two to be released from Kamunting Detention Centre in April 1989 although all the other ISA detainees were released earlier in various batches in the intervening period.

But I never took these events personally, which was why I asked for a meeting with Mahathir after my release from detention.

I told Mahathir I was seeing him not to ask why he detained me and Guan Eng, but why he did not arrest Najib Razak who was at the time the UMNO Youth leader and played a leading role in raising political and racial tensions at the time.

But national interests and those of our children and children’s children must always be greater and more important than personal privations and feelings, and we must move on to secure a Malaysian future where all our children and children’s children, regardless of race, religion, region, politics, age or gender can be proud to be Malaysians instead of migrating overseas to join the world-wide Malaysian Diaspora.

Recently, Mahathir said he has lost pride in being a Malaysian. He said there was a time when people talk highly of Malaysia, but today, people abroad ask what’s happening in the country he could not explain what’s happening in the country.

Something is very wrong when a person who had been the country’s Prime Minister for 22 years, when everything seemed to be “boleh”, comes to the view that he is not proud of being a Malaysian, where everything seems to be “tak boleh” – and what is more important, a sentiment not of one person, but shared by an increasing number of Malaysians!

This is why we must subordinate all personal interests to the national interest to Save Malaysia to make Malaysia great again, where all Malaysians regardless of race, religion, region, politics, age or gender can feel proud again as Malaysians because they have all an equal place under the Malaysian sun.

The UMNO/BN cybertroopers are very busy in the last two days since the Citizens’ Declaration on Friday, dishing out a lot of lies, falsehoods and pure venom.

From the lies and falsehoods which have kept the Umno/BN cybertroopers busy in the past two days, there appears to be three possible scenarios for the reason for Mahathir and I appearing together at the Citizens’ Declaration gathering:

Firstly, that I had become a puppet to Mahatir;

Secondly, that Mahathir had become my puppet;

Thirdly, both of us are not puppet of the other, and that we appeared together for a common national objective to Save Malaysia from becoming a failed and rogue state.

In my fifty years in politics, neither money nor political inducements could entice, enslave or subjugate me. Am I going to sacrifice my political principles when I have just celebrated my 75th birthday and do not have many active years of politics left?

Although the longest serving former Prime Minister, Mahathir has neither the resources nor power to entice or seduce me – in fact, he has become so marginalised politically that he had to quit UMNO a second time to highlight his political concerns.

That is for the first scenario. The second scenario is equally impossible.

Do I have in money, resources or political power to entice or seduce Mahathir to be my puppet apart from the question whether Mahathir is capable of being anybody’s puppet?

It is unthinkable that I could be Mahathir’s puppet or Mahathir my puppet.

That leaves us with the third scenario – that we make a joint appearance at the Citizens’ Declaration gathering on Friday, not because anyone of us is the puppet of the other, but because we feel the need to set the example to all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, age or gender, to put aside our political differences to take a common national stand to save our beloved Malaysia from accelerating down the slippery slope towards a failed and rogue state.

About a week ago, I said at the launch of lawyer Tommy Thomas’ book “Anything But the Law” in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 27 that just as Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990 to take part in the great task of national reconciliation in South Africa, Anwar Ibrahim should also released to take part in the “Save Malaysia” campaign.

What we did on Friday in the Citizens’ Declaration is the first step of the Save Malaysia campaign, which have to followed up with a national consensus on democratic and institutional reforms so that all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region or party affiliation, can again hold their heads high and be proud of being Malaysians because of our accomplishments and achievements, instead of being ashamed because of our national failings and disasters, whether in political, economic, educational, good governance or nation-building endeavours.

There is no doubt that Anwar has an indispensable role to play in this great patriotic task to Save Malaysia for Malaysia to be great again to take her rightful place on the international stage.

I urge all Malaysians to support the Citizens’ Declaration to “Save Malaysia”, and I wish to call special attention to the last paragraph of the 37-paragraph Citizens’ Declaration, which called on all Malaysians, irrespective of race, religion, political affiliation, creed, parties, young and old, to join in a “Save Malaysia” movement from the government headed by Najib, “to pave the way for much-needed democratic and institutional reforms, and to restore the important principle of the separation of powers among the executive, legislature and judiciary which will ensure the independence, credibility, professionalism and integrity of our national institutions”.

We have much work to do to “Save Malaysia”, but we have taken the first important step on Friday. Let us march together on the long road to “Save Malaysia”!

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah