With the approach of a “perfect storm” of combined political, economic and nation-building crises, Malaysia needs statesmen and stateswomen from both sides of the political divide to save Malaysia and not racists, opportunists and charlatans

The signs of the coming of a “perfect storm” of combined political, economic and nation-building crises hitting Malaysia are to be seen everywhere except to the blind and bigots.

The latest sign of the coming of the “perfect storm” in Malaysia is the Reuters report yesterday quoting the Indonesian Finance Minister, Bambang Brodjonegoro saying that Indonesia will seek to shield itself from the spread of any financial contagion from Malaysia by improving market sentiment and using government borrowing to boost dollar inflows.

He expressed worries of Indonesian investors as the twin declines in the rupiah and reserves had revived memories of the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, as well as concerns about contagion from Malaysia “which is in the grips of an escalating political and financial crisis linked to a struggling state investment fund”.

This is evidence that the Malaysian governance has become not only a threat to our own national well-being but also a threat to the economic well-being of neighbouring ASEAN nations.

We should stop the pretence that everything is fine with Malaysia, what with Malaysia climbing two spots in the Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016, (which is nothing much to boast about in a closer study of the latest World Economic Forum ranking) or that there is nothing for Malaysians to be shy or ashamed in having their Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak as the first serving head of government in the world to be investigated as a kleptocrat under the US Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative 2010 with the twin scandals of the RM50 billion 1MDB and RM2.6 billion “donation” in Najib’s personal banking accounts.

The tragedy of MH370 last year was bad enough, when for several months Malaysians could not hold their heads high when abroad and dared not admit that they were Malaysians, but the infamy of the Malaysian Prime Minister under investigation as a kleptocrat in the United States has completely overshadowed the MH 370 episode.

Leaders from both sides of the political divide must demonstrate that they are capable of being Malaysian statesmen and stateswomen who could rise above personal and party differences to unite as Malaysian patriots to save Malaysia from the “perfect storm” of combined political, economic and nation-building crises and not a time for racists, opportunists and charlatans.

I will cite three examples.

Firstly, the “comedy of errors” which is the unfortunate controversy caused by the visit of the China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Hui Kuang to Petaling Street, which should be allowed to rest now that the Cabinet at its meeting yesterday agreed that the ambassador had no intention to interfere in domestic affairs.

What is most deplorable however is the continued attempt to exploit the issue with the escalation of the rhetoric of race, which had caused so much damage to social peace, racial harmony and national unity in recent months.

For instance, the chief organiser of the Sept. 16 Red Shirts Rally has used the occasion to try to drum up support for his call for “Malays Unite” as Malays must “unite to defend every inch of Malay land” on the baseless ground that the Malaysian Chinese citizens have a “land of origin” to seek protection.

This is a most irresponsible, divisive, destructive and racist rhetoric, negating six decades of nation-building to make every citizen, whether Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Dayak a Malaysian first and foremost as they are born, bred and will die in Malaysia and have no other motherland in the world.

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi denied in Kuching last Friday that he is a racist and declared that racism does not exist in Malaysia.

Lets not talk about the past, but the present and the future.

Is Zahid prepared to fully commit himself, the UMNO/BN government and coalition parties to forswear playing the race card or any form of racialism to resolve the multitude of political, economic, good governance and nation building crisis confronting the country.

Secondly, the defence of the Sept. 16 Red Shirts Rally by the Defence Minister, Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein, saying that it was a “balanced reaction” to the 34-hour Bersih 4 rally on August 29/30 when it was a completely irresponsible and uncalled-for response.

I am not really surprised by Hishammuddin’s poor judgement, considering what he had done in the past as UMNO Youth leader, but he cannot be more wrong.

Hishammuddin would be right if the 34-hour Bersih 4 rally had been a Chinese “show-of-force” to challenge Malay political power, but Hishammuddin should know better than anyone else that there is no basis for such calumny and lies.

In his speech after the Sept. 16 Red Shirts Rally, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said:

“Slapped once, we did not do anything. The second time… nothing… the third time… nothing… but the fourth time had crossed the limit. Malays also have rights.

“The Malays will stand up when their pride is scarred, when their leader is insulted, condemned and humiliated. It’s enough, do not repeat such vengeful acts.”

But Najib was misinformed, as all these four instances of “slapping” never took place whether in Bersih 1, 2, 3 or 4.

In fact, apart from Bersih 4, Malays were the majority in the three previous Bersih rallies – 80% Malays in Bersih 1 in 2007; 70% Malays in Bersih 2 in 2011; 60% Malays in Bersih 3 in 2012 and 40% Malays in Bersih 4.

As former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir had said, UMNO was behind the Sept. 16 Red Shirts Rally, which was most irresponsible and unbecoming of a government representing all Malaysians and races in the country.

The third example is the joint MCA-Gerakan press conference yesterday demanding that DAP repent and be responsible for the political provocations that caused racial tension in the country, and justifying the Sept. 16 Red Shirts Malay rally on the ground the 34-hour Bersih 4 rally, allegedly hijacked and masterminded by DAP, had provoked the Red Shirts racialism.

I thank the Gerakan Secretary-General Datuk Liang Teck Meng and the MCA religious harmony bureau chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker for answering what had intrigued me for a month and vindicating my suspicion right from the beginning, viz:

  1. that the MCA and Gerakan were not only too cowardly to speak truth to power to inform UMNO leaders that the 34-hour Bersih 4 overnight rally had nothing to do with race or politics, but was a genuine grassroots demand by Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, age, gender or politics for good governance and clean, free, fair elections; and
  2. But even worse, they instigated UMNO elements to respond to the Bersih 4 Rally in a racist and chauvinist manner, like the Sept. 16 Red Shirts Rally, spreading the lie that DAP had hijacked and masterminded the 34-hour Bersih 4 rally to stage a Chinese “show-of-force” to challenge Malay political authority.

If MCA and Gerakan dared not speak the truth that the 34-hour Bersih 4 rally had nothing to do with race or politics but a genuine demand by Malaysians for good governance and clean, free, fair elections, at least they should not be so opportunistic and irresponsible as to provoke and instigate racist and chauvinist UMNO responses like the Sept. 16 Red Shirts Rally with lies and falsehoods.

With the “perfect storm” of combined political, economic and nation-building crises approaching ever closer, are there statesmen and stateswomen on both sides of the political divide to save Malaysia, or there are only racists, political opportunists and charlatans?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah