Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 25th August 2010:
Has Mahathir crossed the Rubicon to declare war on Najib, 1Malaysia and NEM?
Shock, outrage and consternation are understatements of the reactions to the latest outbursts by former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad when he denounced the proponents of meritocracy as "racists too" and warned the Malay community that they risk losing political control of the country if they remain disunited.
It is not just the spectacle of the former longest-serving Prime Minister of Malaysia adding oil to the cauldron of the politics of race and religion but the repudiation of the Vision 2020 and Bangsa Malaysia which he had proclaimed two decades ago.
In 1990, beginning his second decade as Prime Minister, Mahathir spelt out Vision 2020 to achieve in 30 years a fully developed Malaysian nation made up of one "Bangsa Malaysia" with a sense of common and shared destiny, distinguished by the pursuit of excellence, fully aware of all its potentials, psychologically subservient to none, and respected by the peoples of other nations.
In one fell stroke yesterday, Mahathir had backtracked and repudiated Vision 2020 and "Bangsa Malaysia" causing a whole generation of Malaysians nurtured on Vision 2020 and the concept of Bangsa Malaysia to feel cheated by a national leader who had been the country's longest-serving Prime Minister.
Mahathir's utterances yesterday have far-reaching implications than just his repudiation of the Vision 2020 and Bangsa Malaysia concept he had advocated since 1990.
Has Mahathir crossed the Rubicon to declare war on his second successor as Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak after successfully forcing out the his first successor Tun Abdullah?
Is Najib and his 1Malaysia and New Economic Model (NEM) now the targets of his attack and demolition?
Mahathir had already publicly questioned Najib's 1Malaysia policy and his utterances yesterday marked a throw-back to the irresponsible and dangerous politics of race and religion.
With his denunciation of meritocracy, Mahathir is rubbishing the NEM diagnosis and prescription to resolve the twin nation-building and economic crises confronting the country - especially the NEM recommendation on the imperative importance to recognize that "people are the most valuable assets in the era of globalization" and that for Malaysia to compete on a regional and global scale, Malaysia must "retain and attract talent" with Malaysia "seen by its people and others as a land of equal opportunity to earn a good living and provide a secure, happy life for each individual and the family".
It is a sad commentary on Mahathir’s 22-year premiership that he has no confidence in the NEM proposal for a new affirmative action policy based on needs and merits, market-friendly, "consider all ethnic groups fairly and equally as long as they are in the low income 40% of the households", eliminating rent-seeking and market-distorting features!
Instead, Mahathir has returned to the politics of race.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor