Speech by Lim Kit Siang at the DAP “Abolish ISA” ceramah at Serdang, Selangor on Sunday, 28th September 2008 at 9pm: 

Over 60% of grassroot in Gerakan, MCA, MIC and over 80% of Sabah/Sarawak parties want to quit BN

The front-page headline in the evening edition of tomorrow’s Chinese newspapers is the speech by the Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon that at least 60 per cent of the grassroots in Gerakan want the party to leave Barisan Nasional (BN) to be “relieved of the heavy emotional burden of BN”.

Speaking at the opening of the Federal Territory (FT) Gerakan Wanita and Youth delegates conference this morning, Koh said the Gerakan Central Committee would undertake a more objective and rational analysis of the “quit BN” sentiments in the party.

I dare say without much fear of contradiction that if given the opportunity to voice out, it is not just over 60 per cent of the grassroots in Gerakan but also over 60 per cent of the membership in MCA and MIC would want their parties to leave Barisan Nasional – and the percentage will be even higher for the Barisan Nasional component parties in Sabah and Sarawak, even exceeding 80%.

This is because the UMNOputra leadership, despite the major blow suffered by UMNO political hegemony in the March 8 general election by a multi-racial and multi-religious Pakatan Rakyat, has proved to be utterly insensitive, blind and deaf to the legitimate aspirations of all Malaysians, including ordinary Malays.

Although the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, had immediately declared after the March 8 “political tsunami” that he had finally heard the message from the voters and would deliver the many reform pledges which he had failed to implement, things have gone from bad to worse with the widening and deepening of the multiple crisis of confidence in the country in the past seven months.

Recent events have highlighted the worsening multiple crisis of confidence on the political, economic, institutional and nation-building fronts like:

• The 2008 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development World Investment Report that Malaysia’s foreign direct investment outflows surpassed inflows last year - outflows surged by 82 per cent from 2006 to RM38 billion compared to inflows of RM29 billion, up 39 per cent. According to HLeBroking Research, foreign investors are exiting the country “at a worrying rate”, totaling RM125 billion for the first half of 2008.

• The plunge in the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index from an all-time high of 1,524 points in January to 1,157 shortly after the March general election, to a two-year low of 963 on September 18.

• The 10-placing plunge in Malaysia’s ranking in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index during the five-year premiership of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi from No. 37 in 2003 to No. 47 in 2008;

• The recent gross abuse of the Internal Security Act in the arbitrary arrests of Sin Chew reporter, Tan Hoon Cheng, DAP MP and Senior Exco Teresa Kok (both since released) and blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin and the continued detention of the Hindraf Five and other ISA detainees.

• Malay chauvinism and communalism rearing their ugly heads – evidenced by the emphasis on ketuanan Melayu in direct conflict with the Vision 2020 objective of Bangsa Malaysia, which should focus on ketuanan rakyat Malaysia and the furore over Ahmad Ismail’s “penumpang” speech at the Permatang Pauh by-election.

With at least 60 per cent of the grassroots in Gerakan wanting to quit BN, is Koh and the Gerakan party leadership going to respect and accept these grassroots sentiments or are they going to ride roughshod over these majority sentiments of the Gerakan grassroots by dismissing them as irrational and emotional?

This is of course a decision which would have to be decided by the Gerakan internally, but Malaysians at large are waiting and watching the outcome of the Gerakan “soul-searching”.

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor