Even if Malaysia ends up a failed and bankrupt state, Penang must break ranks to continue to be a successful dynamo of justice, progress and development to save Malaysia for the future
I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry when I read the Penang Barisan Nasional attacks on the DAP-led Penang State Government as leading Penang towards a failed and bankrupt state.
Are the Penang BN leaders seriously suggesting that Penang is becoming a failed and bankrupt state? That Penang is worse than Kelantan, Terengganu, Perlis, Kedah, Pahang, Malacca, Negri Sembilan or Johor?
Ask the people all over the Penang State whether Penang is becoming a failed and bankrupt state, and the answer is a categorical “No” among the overwhelming majority of Penangites, including Barisan Nasional members, except for the few Penang Barisan Nasional leaders who have eyes that see not and ears that hear not.
Ask the people all over Malaysia, whether Malaysia is in danger of being trapped in the trajectory heading towards a failed and bankrupt state, and the answer will be a categorical “Yes” among the overwhelming majority of informed Malaysians including Barisan Nasional members.
When Malaysia achieved Independence and nationhood 60 years ago, we had high hopes and great dreams for the country to be a top world-class nation, not only progressive, forward-looking and successful in all fields of human endeavor, whether political, economic, social and educational, but to be a model to the world of unity, harmony, tolerance and mutual respect in a plural nation of diverse races, religions, languages and cultures.
Apart from Japan, we were sixty years ago the richest and most economically developed country in Asia.
Since then we have been overtaken by many - Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan and unless we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, we are in danger of being overtaken by Vietnam and Thailand, and heavens forbid, even Indonesia and the Philippines!
What happened recently in South Korea is salutary reminder of how far we as a nation have fallen short of our expectations when we achieved Merdeka on August 31, 1957.
South Korea was very poor and backward sixty years ago, with a per capita GNP which is only one-third of this country. Today, South Korea is one of the richest, most developed and prosperous nations in the world – two or three times richer than Malaysia.
Sixty years ago, any notion of democracy and human rights in South Korea was non-existent as it was ruled by a dictatorship.
But today, the South Korean Parliament could impeach the South Korean President and eight judges of the South Korean Constitutional Court could unanimously uphold the impeachment of the South Korean President by the South Korean Parliament on charges of corruption and cronyism.
The impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye is in jail awaiting corruption trial while there had been new presidential elections resulting in new South Korean President Moon Jae In.
This is something which is unthinkable under the present political and justice system in Malaysia, despite the unprecedented international 1MDB money-laundering scandal which had turned Malaysia into a “global kleptocracy” overnight – unless there is a major change in the system of governance in Malaysia in the 14th General Election.
It should be matter of grave concern to all patriotic Malaysians that instead of addressing these political, economic, educational and social issues which show that Malaysia is losing out in the international race of nations in progress, sustainable development, good governance and democracy, there is instead an escalation in the politics of lies, hate, fear and extremism exploiting the primordial issues of race and religion.
Yesterday, the DAP MP for Kluang, Liew Chin Tong, was roughed up while on a mission of goodwill and solidarity at a Ramadan bazaar in Kluang, Johor.
I commend the Bersatu President, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and the UMNO Youth leader, Khairy Jamaluddin for condemning the ruckus at Pasar Ramadan in Kluang, with the latter reminding the assailants that they should have been mindful that this was Ramadan.
But what is the stand of the other UMNO Ministers, and in particular, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak to this wave of extremism in Malaysia?
Malaysians do not want to see in the country the bombings and killings of innocent people, as happened in Manchester, London, Paris, Jakarta, Mindanao or most recently in Teheran, whether by Islamic State or other extremist and fanatical elements.
Malaysians must never forget the lessons of history, of the heavy price moderates have to pay when they failed to stand up against extremism or fanaticism of any form.
It is pointless Malaysia preaching the Wasatiyyah principles of moderation, justice, fair play, balance and excellence on the global level, if we allow extremism and fanaticism room in public discourse and mainstream space in the country.
Moderate Malaysians regardless of race, religion or politics must be very concerned that of late, the voices of hatred, intolerance and extremism are rearing their ugly heads with ugly incidents like the roughing up of the DAP MP for Kluang who was spreading goodwill, understandring and solidarity at Pasar Ramadan in Kluang and the demands by a few in Penang that non-Muslims should not partake in the breaking of fasts of Muslims.
Moderate Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or politics, must speak up strongly and steadfastly for peace, tolerance, understanding and mutual respect and not cede any single inch of mainstream ground to the advocates of hatred, intolerance and extremism or Malaysia will be heading towards a perilous and disastrous end – a failed and bankrupt state.
Malaysia can only succeed as a world-class nation by leveraging on the best qualities embedded in the diverse races, languages, religions, cultures and civilizations which meet in confluence in Malaysia.
There is no option for Malaysia but to pursue a policy of moderation in our nation-building policies and directions which give primacy to the goals of unity, peace, tolerance, understanding, mutual respect and excellence.
We will end up as a broken and a failed state if we do not resist the siren song of extremists who preach distrust, hatred and intolerance and want to build walls segregating the diverse races, religions and cultures in Malaysia.
Malaysians can differ on how to make Malaysia great, just and free, but they must stand united on the principles and precepts of moderation which form the bedrock of Malaysian nation-building as spelt out in the Merdeka Constitution 1957, the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and Rukunegara 1970.
Three decades ago, I called on Penang to be the frontline state for change and progress in Malaysia.
Today, we are striving to make Johor another front-line state for change and progress so that with Penang and Johor in the political lead in Peninsular Malaysia, we hope to bring about major political changes in the forthcoming 14th General Elections to restore and re-set nation-building directions and policies for Malaysia to be a top world-class nation in the various fields of human endeavor and be a world model of unity, harmony, tolerance and mutual respect in a plural nation of diverse races, religions, languages and cultures.
Worse come to the worst, even if all efforts of moderate and patriotic Malaysians fail, and the country ends up as a failed and bankrupt state, Penang must break ranks to continue to be a successful dynamo of justice, progress and development in Malaysia to save the country for the future.