Call on all Pakatan Rakyat leaders, including PAS President Hadi Awang, to focus single-mindedly on how to save Pakatan Rakyat and discourage efforts and elements within our ranks who are prepared to destabilize and even destroy PR

In my Chinese New Year Message on 17th February, I had said that many issues will jostle as the top Malaysian concerns and conversational topics during the Chinese New Year.

This is the third day of the Chinese New Year, and I confess that I had expected Anwar’s conviction and five-year jail sentence for Sodomy II by the Federal Court and his fourth incarceration in his 47-year political struggle as the No. 1 conversation topic of all Malaysians in the Chinese New Year.

I was however wrong, for another issue caught up and gained an edge over Anwar’s conviction and 5-year jail sentence to compete for the No. 1 Chinese New Year top conversation topic – another Federal Court decision concerning a nine-year-matter, the heinous murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu and the blowing up of her body with military C4 explosives in the Shah Alam bushes on Oct. 19, 2006.

On the day I issued my Chinese New Year Message on 17th February, Sirul Azhar, one of the two convicted murderers of Altantunya who had absconded and is seeking asylum in Australia, told Malaysiakini that he was mulling over the possibility of “telling all” about the Altantuya murder as he was only acting “under orders”.

The fast-paced five-day developments of the Altantuya murder case from the Sirul perspective, threatening to reveal “all” in a video conference from Australia tomorrow (Monday) morning, catapulted the issue into a greater cause celebre during the Chinese New Year family re-unions, get-togethers, discussions and coffee-shop talks than the Anwar case – although both these cases were unchallenged as the two top-most first and second conversation topics in the Chinese New Year.

These two high-profile cases highlighted a common defect in our system of governance - a deep rot in the leadership of the 130,000 strong police establishment not to allow the men and women in blue to act efficiently, independently and professionally to uphold what is right and lawful rather to be subverted to glorify “might is right”’ and the shocking lack of commitment and quality of performance by the political leadership and public service to provide good governance.

I am thoroughly shocked and outraged at the failure of our system of administration of justice in both these high-profile cases in keeping with the maxim to ensure that “justice is not only done, but seen to be done”.

There were several burning issues which qualify to be described as the concerns and top conversation topics of all Malaysians on the occasion of the Chinese New Year of the Goat in the past few days, and among those competing for the second tier level of the Chinese New Year concerns and top conversation topics are:

  1. Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri’s racist call to Malay consumers to boycott Chinese businesses and the impotence and lack of political will and commitment to 1Malaysia by the Najib premiership to resolve the issue in a satisfactory and acceptable manner despite the passage of some three weeks.
  2. Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s intensification of his campaign to topple Datuk Seri Najib Razak as Prime Minister of Malaysia and UMNO President. People are speculating whether Najib could survive as PM till the end of the year, or even by mid-year or even earlier.
  3. The massive 1MDB Scandal;
  4. The continued educational, economic and environmental decline in the country and the unchecked deterioration of all the indices of good governance, threatening to end up with Malaysia as a basket case joining the ranks of the “failed states”.
  5. Rearing of the ugly heads of extremism, bigotry and intolerance in the public domain, with the voices of moderation remaining muted and silent, resulting in the country seeing the worst racial and religious polarization in the nation’s history.
  6. Unchecked corruption, greed and abuses of power in top decision-making circles.
  7. The far-reaching consequences of the implementation of GST from April 1.

There were other ongoing developments and issues competing for attention as the top Chinese New Year concerns and conversation topics, including:

  1. The fate of Pakatan Rakyat, with Anwar back in jail and the death of Tok Guru Nik Aziz, whether PR component parties could take stock, regroup and reunify to “return to the basics” to be guided by the two fundamental principles of PR Common Policy Framework and consensus operational principle which had brought success to PR in the 12th and 13th General Elections, or whether PR would explode and disintegrate.
  2. The escalation of crackdown on human rights and fundamental liberties as witnessed by the arrest of human rights lawyer, Eric Paulsen, cartoonists Zunar, social activist Lawrence Jayaraj, student leader Adam Adli Abdul Halim, DAP Penang Exco and Wanita DAP chief Chong Eng, PSM Secretary-General S. Arutchelvan and impending arrest of DAP MP for Taiping, Nga Kor Ming.

It is most outrageous and scandalous that the Malaysian police showed neither respect nor sensitivity whatsoever when three cops appeared at Perak Pakatan Rakyat Chinese New Year Open House in Ipoh this morning to publicly serve Nga with the official notice to show up at Bukit Aman police headquarters tomorrow at 11.30 am to have his statement recorded with regard to a sedition probe against him.

Why such high-handedness, selectivity of treatment and even harassment of PR leaders when police want to conduct investigations as compared to the servile and submissive police attitude when faced with UMNO Ministers, a former Deputy Minister and pro-UMNO activists who were accused of making racial and religious hate statements or speeches?

The UMNO/Barisan Nasional would be sorely mistaken if the think they could cow and subdue patriotic critics and dissenters with such boorish and insensitive attitudes.

Clearly, the country needs a change but the past 18 months after the 13th General Elections have exposed one stark reality – that such change is not possible under the present Umno/BN government, whether Najib or anyone else.

In fact, we have one of the weakest Prime Ministers in the nation’s history, as Datuk Seri Najib is even weaker than his predecessor, Tun Abdullah Badawi. But he is a powerful UMNO President who is not easy to be dislodged or removed inside UMNO. And if Najib can continue as UMNO President, his position as the sixth Prime Minister is safe.

Najib has lost the sense of national direction, as exemplified by the fact that he now hardly talked or promoted his three key official programmes – the 1Malaysia Policy, the National Transformation Programme founded on a New Economic Model (NEM) and his initiative of a Global Movement of Moderates.

This is why there is even greater hope among Malaysians that the Pakatan Rakyat would be vehicle for national change among Malaysians of all races, and that the 14th General Elections would provide such an opportunity after it was stolen away in the 13th General Elections because of undemocratic electoral constituency delineation despite the Pakatan Rakyat winning a majority of 52% of the national vote.

However, the Pakatan Rakyat is facing the greatest crisis in its seven-year history, which has been aggravated by the imprisonment of Anwar Ibrahim and the death of Tok Guru Nik Aziz.

Can the Pakatan Rakyat ride through the crisis and emerge even stronger than ever or would it disintegrate and die?

This a question awaiting answer not only by Pakatan Rakyat leaders but supporters as well.

I want to appeal to all Pakatan Rakyat leaders, including Pas President, Datuk Seri Ahmad Hadi Awang, to focus single-mindedly on how to save Pakatan Rakyat and discourage efforts and elements within our ranks who are prepared to destabilize and even destroy PR.

The latest political developments and the death of Nik Aziz has revived the UG (Unity Government) idea of certain UMNO strategists out to divide and destroy PR and it is most likely that UMNO will not contest the Chempaka by-election in the Kelantan State Assembly arising from the death of Nik Aziz.

In today Mingguan Malaysia, UMNO’s mouth piece, former Chief Justice, Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad said PAS and Umno must unite to save Barisan Nasional (BN) should Pakatan Rakyat (PR) win the 14th general election, making the baseless and wild allegation that the DAP will destroy the rights of the Malays and Islam's special position if it gained power.

It is most irresponsible for UMNO quarters to stir up and indoctrinate Malays particularly in the rural areas with racist smears and racialist outrages as in the rural areas there are inadequate access to internet, which is one reason why they are so vulnerable to such false and base attacks.

Who will be the next Opposition Leader? It is premature to talk about it now, as under the Constitution, Anwar is still MP for Permatang Pauh and Parliamentary Opposition Leader.

However, if there is need for a new Opposition leader, I believe there is no shortage of talents from three PR parties to helm this position.

In DAP, there is Lim Guan Eng Penang Chief Minister and the coterie of young but tested DAP leaders; in PKR there are Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Datuk Azmin Ali, Nuruk Izzah; and in PAS there is Hadi Awang and new generation of PAS leaders.

The paramount task is for every PR leader to jointly save PR by adopting an Eight-Year Roadmap reaffirming the secret recipe of the PR success in the 2008 and 2013 general elections, namely adherence to the PR Common Policy Framework which binds all three parties and the operational principle of consensus requiring the consent of all three parties before any policy or issue could represent that of PR.

There have been dissenting voices, like those who said that the immediate implementation of hudud cannot be compromised and must be effected.

This is why PR will miss Nik Aziz greatly. Firstly, it was because of his staunch opposition to UG idea that the concept did not get very far.

Secondly, Nik Aziz will be able the see the Big Picture on the need to endorse the eight-year PR Roadmap to ensure the survival, success and victory of PR in the 14th General Election.

Nobody doubts that Nik Aziz would himself want to see the immediate implementation of hudud, but he is realistic enough to know that it was not part of the PR Common Policy Framework and that any insistence without arriving at a PR consensus to implement it would lead to the disintegration of PR.

Nik Aziz would have understood the arguments that the implementation of hudud is not a top priority issue as compared to ensuring the survival and success of PR, the defeat of Umno/BN and in capturing Putrajaya Federal Government in the 14th GE to immediately implement policies which will restore freedom, justice, human dignity and good governance in Malaysia.

Nik Aziz had given great support to the formation and sustenance of PR, although hudud is not part of the PR Common Policy Framework.

This is why I cannot buy the argument that it will be going against Islamic principles if hudud is not implemented, for it would mean that Nik Aziz and all Pas leaders and members had betrayed Islamic principles for six years from the 12th to 13th General Elections when the issue of the implementation of hudud was not presented as one of the core principles of PR in the 13th General Elections.

I earnestly hope that the PR leaders can single-mindedly work on a formula to save Pakatan Rakyat, which will at the same time save the country as well as save Anwar from five-year incarceration followed by another five years of disenfranchisement of his civil and citizenship rights to stand for elective office and even to cast his vote.

Let us do what we can to achieve three Ss – Save Pakatan Rakyat, Save Malaysia and Save Anwar!

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah