DAP committed to make life better for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region

It was quite a nostalgic occasion for me when the founder members of the Bintulu DAP Branch came on stage to be recognised and given a souvenir to commemorate their signal contribution to the founding to the Bintulu DAP Branch in 1978, as I was here in Bintulu 41 years ago.

It is very heart-warming to see the old warriors, men or women, who had toiled, with their sweat, blood and tears, in the past four decades to build DAP in Bintulu, Sarawak and Malaysia to what it is today.

Bintulu of 1978 is very different from Bintulu of 2019, but the commitment of the DAP, to make life better for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, remains constant and unchanged.

Some thirty years ago in February 1990 when Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad first announced Vision 2020 of Malaysia becoming a fully developed nation in the year 2020, he referred to 19 countries that were generally regarded as “developed countries”.

We have not only failed to become a “fully developed nation” in 2020, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) ranked Malaysia at No. 63 in its list of countries by GDP per capita 2018.

In the past three decades, not only have Malaysia been overtaken by many countries, many ASEAN countries are closing the economic gap between them and Malaysia.

In 1990, Malaysia had a per capita GDP of US$2,550, as compared to US$349 for China, US$1,571 for Thailand, US$806 for Philippines, US$771 for Indonesia, US$100 for Cambodia, US$98 for Vietnam and US$426 for Laos.

In 2018, Malaysia had a per capita GDP of US$10,942, as compared to US$9,608 for China, US$7.187 for Thailand, US$3,104 for Philippines, US$3,871 for Indonesia, US$1,509 for Cambodia, US$2,551 for Vietnam and US$2,720 for Laos.

Forty years ago, when Malaysian Chinese visited China, it was from a rich country to a poor and backward nation. Today, the reverse is taking place – as a visit from Malaysia to China now is to a more developed, advanced and more prosperous nation.

In 40 years of its economic reforms, the World Bank reported that China has brought 850 million people out of poverty while its per GDP had increased 24 times.

Malaysia’s per capita GDP increased by some eight times in the past four decades, while the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Professor Philip Alston, said recently that Malaysia had undercounted the number of poor, that the reported 0.4 per cent of households or approximately 27,000 households below the poverty line income (PLI) is a gross underestimation.

Last week, there were reports that Malaysia is even losing out to Vietnam.

DAP believes that if we are to make life better for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, we must have the mentality of a developed nation, to break the trajectory towards a failed, rogue and kleptocractic state and dare to aspire to become a top world-class nation in as many fields of human endeavour as possible.

We must, for instance, set ourselves to be a leading nation of integrity in the world and to be in ranked among the world’s 30 leading nations of integrity within a decade, and all Malaysians must work with single-minded commitment towards this goal.

I know that many Malaysians are asking why the former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najbi Razak, who caused Malaysia the infamy of being regarded worldwide a s a global kleptocracy, is not yet in jail – but we must be consistent in wanting to restore the rule of law and Malaysians must accept that the due legal process takes time.

But we must be determined that all the kleptocrats, whether former Prime Minister, former Deputy Prime Minister, former Cabinet Ministers or “titans” of the previous era, together with the sharks and ikan bilis, must be brought to book for their kleptoracy, corruption and abuses of power or nobody would believe that Malaysia could make headway to become a leading nation of integrity.

In the last few days, there had been media reports of plots and conspiracies to topple the Pakatan Harapan Government in Putrajaya, causing it to implode, whether by disintegration or dismemberment, and one of the reasons for these plots and conspiracies is undoubtedly to ensure that the kleptocrats, sharks and ikan bilis of corruption could escape justice and judgment including long prisons sentences.

This is an important reason why Malaysians who care for a better life in the future for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, must unite to ensure that the war against kleptocracy and corruption is carried out to its logical conclusion – which can only be accomplished if the Pakatan Harapan Government remains intact, unwavering and committed to the goal of an united, just, democratic, harmonious and incorruptible Malaysia.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri