Reject UMNO/BN on May 9, 2018 to Save Malaysia from a kakistocracy now that we have become a global kleptocracy

The 14th General Election will be the most important general election Malaysians have ever had to face.

It will mark the first time in our history when a former prime minister leads the Opposition into battle against the party and coalition he once led. In doing so, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has rejected his old party, Umno, and condemned it as a party that no longer fights for the interests of the Malays and Malaysians. He has accused Umno’s leaders as being greedy, corrupt, power-crazy, and serving their own interests.

Many Malays who still revere Tun Mahathir may now be convinced to vote against Umno for the first time in their lives. They may now see in Pakatan Harapan an alternative to Barisan Nasional (BN). This will spark a new voting trend for many Malays. And it brings hope to Pakatan Harapan. For we cannot ignore the fact that GE14 will largely be decided by the Malays.

At the same time, we must also take note that Malaysians of all races have never been so distrustful and contemptuous of BN than now. The 1MDB scandal has tarnished the country’s good name throughout the world, with billions of ringgit of the people’s money stolen from the fund, some of it going to a high public official known as MO1. Other scandals have emerged, like those involving Felda and Mara, which further show how untrustworthy the so-called protectors of the people have become.

After a long-overdue reign of 61 years, the BN government has become not only a kleptocracy (i.e. government of thieves) but also a kakistocracy (i.e. government by the worst).

As a result of this, it is not only the Malays but the non-Malays as well who are suffering under the Najib Razak administration. They have been subjected to the rising cost of living, withdrawals of subsidies for essential items, the imposition of GST.

At the same time, they see the gap between the haves and the have-nots widening. BN leaders, particularly those from Umno, wear super-expensive watches, own luxury cars and huge houses, go on shopping sprees overseas, stay in six-star hotels when they travel, while the average Malaysians are eking out a living, some from hand to mouth.

These long-suffering Malaysians hear of money being siphoned from public projects, money being thrown around to secure positions in Umno, money being stolen by public officials from public funds, RM2.6 billion deposited in the private bank account of Najib Razak, the head of Umno and BN.

They have had enough. BN has lost its moral compass. When Cabinet members and leaders of the MCA, Gerakan and the MIC who are supposedly people of a certain level of intelligence can go on supporting MO1 who has been shamefully recognised globally as a kleptocrat, it is a sign that BN has lost its moral compass.

This is why GE14 is so important. It gives Malaysians the chance to vote BN out.

But as we go about this all-important task, we must be vigilant. We must not allow BN to steal the elections. It has tried to do so by passing the new redelineation proposals which are supposed to put the Opposition at a severe disadvantage. Najib Razak forsook his 1Malaysia slogan by endorsing new electoral boundaries that polarise the races, based on his belief that the Chinese are anti-BN and the Malays pro-BN. He also devalued the democratic rights of Opposition voters by corralling them in big numbers in some constituencies, the biggest being the mega parliamentary constituency of Damansara, which is disproportionately crammed with 174,000 voters.

BN has also bulldozed through Parliament in an unscrupulously hasty manner the Anti-Fake News Bill. With this law, it can denounce as “fake news” any reports about 1MDB that the Government has not first verified!

Meanwhile, BN itself can manufacture and peddle its own fake news with impunity, through the mainstream mass media that it owns and controls and also through unfounded claims made by BN leaders. The DAP, for instance, has been the victim of such fake news and claims, falsely accused of attempting to Christianise Malaysia and, most unjustly, of being anti-Malay and anti-Islam.

I, too, have had to face false claims made against me. One said I received RM1 billion from Mahathir, more than a RM1 billion from Israeli sources, RM100 million from tycoon Robert Kuok.

Another said I was Pakatan Harapan’s choice for prime minister, even after we had announced that Tun Mahathir was our prime minister-designate!

BN is also using underhand tactics to prevent the people from voting, from exercising their democratic right to choose the government they want. BN openly showed this when it set polling day on a weekday – and not just any weekday but a Wednesday, right in the middle of the week!

This is BN’s ploy to deter Malaysians working far away from their voting constituencies from returning to vote, as well as Malaysians working in Singapore or living overseas. This is because BN is afraid that a large voter turnout will work against it. The caretaker government was initially not even going to declare that day a public holiday, but pressure from the rakyat forced it to eventually back down.

The rakyat showed they had the power. Now all the more so Malaysians must make it a point to return and vote – to thwart BN’s dirty tactics and use their power to decide who should form the next government.

It is clear that BN desperately wants to remain in government. And it will stop at nothing to achieve this goal, including flouting the rule of law. After the dissolution of Parliament, when it had become merely a caretaker government, it violated election laws by, for instance, announcing goodies for taxi drivers worth RM53.6 million. A caretaker government is not allowed to dole out financial aids to anyone, and the Election Commission should take action against BN for this breach. But will it? No. Our institutions have become too compromised. The EC is not the neutral body it is supposed to be. Neither are the police, nor the MACC. And the mainstream media cannot be trusted to give balanced news.

What we need to do for the country after GE14 is to restore its moral compass and the rule of law, and resuscitate our institutions. BN will not be the coalition to do that. This is all the more reason why we must not let Najib and BN steal the elections. If we let them, we will be letting them steal the future of the country, the future of our children.

Under the BN hegemony, our democracy will suffer, our freedom will be curtailed, our public coffers will not be safe. Let us therefore seize this chance to make the two-coalition system a reality. For only when it has become a reality will Malaysian voters appreciate that BN is not the only coalition that can rule the country, that there can be good governance without BN.

When the country achieved Merdeka in 1957 and Malaysia was formed in 1963, we had a national vision expressed in the 1957 Merdeka and 1963 Malaysia Proclamations. Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman called on everyone in the country “to work and strive with hand and brain to create a new nation, inspired by the ideals of justice and liberty”, to pursue the great dream of a Malaysia of Excellence, Justice, Integrity, Compassion and Freedom, “ever seeking the welfare and happiness of its people and the maintenance of a just peace among all nations”.

This is our Malaysian Dream.

Let us dare to dream again the Malaysian Dream and showcase to the world our united, harmonious, successful, progressive and prosperous nation created out of the best of the diverse races, languages, religions and cultures that enrich Malaysia.

Let us shake off the disrepute we have acquired as a rogue state and a global kleptocracy, ruled by a false democrat. Let us have a great prime minister who is held in high esteem, respected and admired by the world, not one who is scorned and ridiculed by the world.

Let us have a great Parliament which will fiercely safeguard the good name of Malaysia by allowing questions and debates on the 1MDB scandal instead of banning it on the most ridiculous grounds. If the people’s representatives cannot question what has been globally acknowledged as one of the biggest corruption cases ever, who can?

Let us have a great judiciary and a great justice system. Let us have an independent MACC to combat corruption. Let us bring about a new Malaysiaand come together to regenerate hope and re-inspire Malaysians, regardless of race or religion.

GE14, more than any of the previous 13 general elections from 1959 to 2013, will be about the future of the country for the next 50 or even 100 years. Malaysians will be asked to cast their vote on May 9 not so much for themselves but for the future of their children and children’s children, and for the fate and state of the nation.

GE14 will be a battle royale of truth versus lies, of the people of Malaysia versus Najib-Umno-BN, of no more kleptocracy versus 2MDB, 3MDB and more!

We need a Malaysian tsunami. Voters need to come out in overwhelming numbers and overwhelmingly vote for Pakatan Harapan. When that happens, no amount of cheating, no amount of postal votes can steal victory from us.

So, people of Malaysia, come out and vote on May 9. Don’t let anything stop you. Vote BN out that day and make history. Then, with the help of the rakyat, Pakatan Harapan will make Malaysia great again!

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader