Is another ferocious bout of “Chinese-bashing” in the works at the Umno General Assemblies at the end of month
It gives me great pleasure to launch Nurul Izzah Anwar’s book “Masa Depan, Masa Kita” in Chinese.
Second-term Member of Parliament, Nurul Izzah, who has the distinguished record of sending two UMNO Ministers packing, represents the hopes and dreams of a better Malaysia for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, age or gender.
The launching of her book in Chinese today is significant for it underlines one essential quality of a Malaysian leader or icon – he or she must not be an exclusive leader for one race, religion or region but must be an inclusive leader who can reach out to all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region.
This is particularly significant as recent years have witnessed an unprecedented upsurge of the rhetoric and politics of hatred, intolerance and extremism causing the worst racial and religious polarization for over four decades.
This was why I had expressed the hope yesterday that the amicable resolution to the nearly year-long Selangor controversy over the seizure of the Malay and Iban Bibles, together with Malaysia’s assumption of the ASEAN Chair for 2015 with the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak promising to promote moderation in ASEAN, would usher in a virtuous cycle of moderation and establish Malaysia as a regional and international model of moderation.
But this is not to be, for these hopes – that Malaysians would avoid narrow communalism just as ASEAN should avoid narrow nationalism – were dashed yesterday itself firstly by the hysterical paper by the former Univeristi Teknologi Mara (UiTM) at the Johor Umno convention that “If Umno loses, Malays may never rule again” and secondly, the new twisted, irresponsible, dangerous and wicked theory of “shades of racism” by an UMNO Minister, insinuating that the Malays were not welcomed in Pakatan Rakyat-run Penang.
These were variations of a constant theme of the rhetorics and politics of hatred, intolerance and extremism that had haunted Malaysia – that Malays and Islam are under siege, that the end of UMNO rule would mean the end of Malay political power, that the Chinese are out to grab the political power of the Malays and make the Malays the “refugees” in their own land, that the country would be turned into a Christian Malaysia – which are not only wild, baseless, far-fetched but downright mischievous, malicious, vile and seditious as calculated to cause maximum unrest and havoc in the country.
When UMNO vice president and Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein announced on Tuesday that the relevance of maintaining the Chinese school system will be one of the “hotly-debated topics” during the Umno annual general assembly this month, the question many are asking is whether another ferocious bout of “Chinese-bashing” is in the works – just like the orgy of Chinese-bashing immediately after the 13th General Elections in May last year with the UMNO organ, Utusan Malaysia leading the attack with the front-page headline and question “Apa lagi orang Cina mahu?” (What else do the Chinese want?), ignoring the fact that the 13GE was not a Chinese tsunami but a Malaysian urban tsunami.
We must take heart that the voices of hatred, extremism and intolerance come from a raucous minority and we must keep faith with the overwhelming majority of Malaysians, from all races, religions and regions, who believe in moderation and the middle path of unity, harmony, tolerance, justice and fair play for all Malaysians.
Malaysia’s future as a nation is assured so long as the overwhelming majority of Malaysians promote a Malaysian Dream transcending a Malay Dream, Chinese Dream, Indian Dream, Kadazan Dream or Iban Dream.
We want a Malaysia where there is no Chinese-bashing, Malay-bashing, Indian-bashing, Kadazan-bashing or Iban-bashing but a common commitment how best to achieve the Malaysian Dream where all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, could realize their maximum potential and worth.
The headline which Malaysiakini gave yesterday for the report about the UMNO Minister’s twisted, irresponsible, dangerous and wicked theory of “shades of racism” was “Minister: Land where Malays not welcomed”.
This is not the Malaysia of the Malaysian Dream as we want a Malaysia where there is no part of the country where Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans feel unwelcomed.
During and even after the 13GE, I have been depicted as anti-Malay, anti-Islam and even responsible for provoking the May 13 riots in 1969 for allegedly shouting anti-Malay slogans in street processions in Kuala Lumpur from May 11 to 13,1969 although I was never in Kuala Lumpur in that period as I was in Malacca on May 12 and Kota Kinabalu on May 13, 1969.
Apart from missing one parliamentary term from 1999-2004, I have been MP for ten terms from 1969, i.e. for a period of 40 years.
I issued a challenge in Parliament in June last year to anyone to quote a single speech that I have made in Parliament in the past four decades which is anti-Malay or anti-Islam.
In fact, there should be an independent commission of inquiry to identify those responsible for all the incendiary, inflammatory, seditious and racist speeches, statements and articles before, during and after the 13GE resulting in serious racial and religious polarisation in the country – whether made in Parliament or outside.
I have said in Parliament that anyone in Malaysia who hate Malays, or any racial or religious group in the country, whether Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans, or Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs or Taoists, cannot be true and patriotic Malaysians.
In my 47 years in politics, I have always regarded myself as a Malaysian first and last. I have never regarded myself purely as a Chinese, but as a Malaysian of Chinese ethnic descent whose loyalty is unswervingly to the Malaysian nation, having common cause with all Malaysians regardless of race, religion or region to build a better Malaysia for all Malaysians.
Before what turned out to be an eight-day Federal Court appeal hearings from Oct. 28 to Nov. 8, Anwar Ibrahim said from London that he dismissed any prospect of going into exile, despite the possibility of being jailed.
I can understand Anwar’s feelings, why he said “no” despite the tribulations he might have to endure and how difficult it would be for him, his family and friends if he has to serve another jail sentence.
This was because I had gone through it myself.
When May 13 riots broke out in Kuala Lumpur in 1969, I was in Kota Kinabalu for a public rally to campaign for the independent candidate.
When I was expelled from Sabah and left Kota Kinabalu on May 15, 1969, I was advised by my party comrades and family members to stay abroad as I was on the blacklist for the Internal Security Act crackdown, but I felt that I had to be back with the people of Malaysia, whatever the risk to my personal life and freedom. I had just been elected Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka and my place was with the people of Malaysia and not to go into exile abroad.
Hence started my first Internal Security Act sojourn, which lasted for 17 months from 1969 – 70.
Whatever our political views and differences with those in power, we are all Malaysian patriots, Anwar, Nurul, and all of you who share a common Malaysian Dream.
This book spells out Nurul Izzah’s vision of a Malaysian Dream.
My Malaysian Dream envisions a plural society where all her citizens are united as one people, rising above their ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic differences as the common grounds binding them as one citizenship exceed the differences that divide them because of their ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural divisions .
In this Malaysian Dream, we all owe undivided loyalty to the country, we share in one motherland and we come together as one people to develop the greatness of the country deriving from the best from the diverse races, religions and cultures which have made a home in Malaysia so that Malaysia can become one of the leading nations of the world in all fields of human endeavour.
Nurul Izzah’s book-launch today is an important step towards the realization of the Malaysian Dream.