If Tunku is alive today, instead of being the “happiest Prime Minister”, he would be the “unhappiest Malaysian”

On this day 24 years ago, Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman passed away at the age of 87.

If Tunku is still alive today, instead of being the “happiest” Prime Minister which had been his greatest wish, he would have been the “unhappiest” Malaysian in the country.

Together with the third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, Tunku’s efforts to form UMNO Malaysia when UMNO was deregistered in 1988, was sabotaged and quashed by the then Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir who set up his own UMNO Baru which Tunku refused to join, questioning its legitimacy and integrity to his last breath.

Tunku would have been horrified at the proceedings of the recent UMNO Baru General Assembly where race-baiting and religious incitement based on the primordial politics of fear, hate and lies were given free rein, with delegates made to believe that after 57 years of UMNO government and six UMNO Prime Ministers, Malays are under siege and Islam under threat, causing one delegate to declare that Malays have become “slaves in our own land”, another to call for the use of “1 Melayu” instead of “1 Malaysia slogan”, while a third to demand that UMNO elect MCA, Gerakan and MIC leaders into the Barisan Nasional supreme council.

But what would have most shocked Tunku even more would have been the political cowardice of the UMNO national leadership in failing to repudiate the irresponsible and dangerous politics of fear, hate and lies by the likes of former Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dr. Datuk Mashitah Ibrahim who concocted the incendiary lie that the Chinese in Kedah had burnt the Quran “page by page in a prayer ritual” and the Penang UMNO delegate, Datuk Mohd Zaidi Mohd Said who incited inter-racial hate, tension and conflict with the allegation that the success of Penang was because of the illegal businesses and crimes in “broad daylight” of the Chinese in the state.

Although the Prime Minister had promised to be fair in the enforcement of the laws after reneging on his pledge to repeal the Sedition Act and the Home Minister Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had publicly swore that there would police action “within 24 hours” of any police report against any individual who impinged on sensitive issues. Mashitah and Zaidi continued to enjoy immunity and impunity from the sanctions of the law for their hate crimes.

Corruption would be an area which would make Tunku very uncomfortable with present-day Malaysia.

It has been narrated that Tunku had to sell his row of houses in Penang, one by one, to finance UMNO and he himself often said he retired as Prime Minister in 1970 as “a pauper”.

Is Tun Dr. Mahathir a “pauper” today? Yesterday, Tun Dr. Mahathir even lamented that political parties are becoming increasingly corrupt, and that “if you become a politician or become a leader in a political party, especially the party in power there are opportunities to make money”.

This curse of money politics in ruling political parties started during Mahathir’s 22-year premiership, when UMNO and to a lesser extent the other Barisan Nasional component parties, were regarded as “passports to fortune” – which would be a total anathema to the first three Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Tunku, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein.

Tunku would find no joy in Malaysia’s improvement in the ranking in Malaysia’s Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2014, moving up to 50th spot among 175 countries from the 53rd position last year.

This is because Najib’s TI CPI 2014 ranking and score are not only lower than the two previous Prime Ministers, Tun Mahathir and Tun Abdullah, but also because Malaysia is one of the worst peforming countries in the 20-year annual TI CPI series since 1995.

Corruption in the past three decades has got from bad to worse, a far cry from the administration of the first three Prime Ministers when corruption was never a major problem and was well under control.

When can Malaysia return to the moderation and public incorruptibility of leaders in the first two decades of the nation’s history?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah