60th National Day Celebrations should cause all Malaysians to “reset” nation-building direction and policies for Malaysia to compete with the rest of the world and not to fight among ourselves to be more divided and lose out in the international race

Malaysia will be celebrating our 60th National Day anniversary in four months’ time.

It is an occasion for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region or even politics, to re-set nation-building directions and policies for Malaysians to compete with the rest of the world and not to fight among ourselves to be more divided and lose out in the international race of nations for development and progress .

Malaysia has performed poorly in the international race in the past sixty years.

The case of South Korea should be a salutary reminder of how far we as a nation have fallen short of our expectations when we achieved Merdeka on August 31, 1957.

Sixty years ago, South Korea was very poor and backward, with a per capita GNP which is only one-third in this country. Today, South Korea is one of the richest, most developed and prosperous nations in the world.

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.

This is something which is unthinkable under the present the 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.

I have with me a chart of the 22-year annual Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) from 1995-2006, which shows how other countries have moved forward to become mature developed nations practising the principles of integrity and good governance, while we Malaysia had stagnated and worse, gone backwards over the decades.

In the first year of TI CPI in 1995, which listed only 41 countries, Malaysia was ranked in the middling position of No. 23 with a score above the midpoint – i.e. 5.28 in a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean).

China and Indonesia came in at the bottom end, with China ranked as No. 40 with a score of 2.16 out of 10 while Indonesia came in last ranking No. 41 out of 41 with a score of 1.94.

If Malaysia had made a decimal improvement in the TI CPI score of 0.1 point each year the past 22 years, Malaysia’s present score would have been 7.48, or roughly translated into 74.8 out of a scale increased from 10 to 100, which would have placed Malaysia in the rank around No. 18 out of 176 countries.

Unfortunately, despite all “thunder and lightning” about anti-corruption in Malaysia, Malaysia’s TI CPI worsened with the TI CPI ranking falling to No. 55 out of 176 countries while the TI CPI score fell below the midpoint to 49 in the new scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

In contrast, both China and Indonesia have made significant improvements in the TI CPI in the past 22 years, with China improving its score from 2.16/10 in 1995 to 40/100 with its TI CPI Ranking from No. 40/41 in 1995 to 79/176 in 2016 and Indonesia improving its score from 1.94/10 in 1995 to 37/100 with TI CPI ranking from 41/41 in 1995 to 90/176.

Both China and Indonesia are closing the gap with Malaysia in both TI CPI ranking and score in the past two decades – which is a sad commentary of Malaysia’s failure to compete with the rest of the world since our achievement of Merdeka sixty years ago in 1957.

It must 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 and development, there is instead an escalation in the politics of lies, hate and fear exploiting the primodial issues of race and religion.

I call on all political parties to focus on how to save Malaysia from becoming a kleptocratic state and getting into the trajectory of a failed and rogue state by restoring our capability to compete with the rest of the world – and to renounce the politics of lies, curses, hate and fear, whether racial or religious.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah