Who can save Malaysia?

In the first 100 days of the Pakatan Harapan government in 2018, there was nothing that it could do wrong. After that, there was nothing that it could do right.

Why was it so?

There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, the euphoria and the expectations of the unprecedented general election victory were too sky-high although grave mistakes were made in the first months of Pakatan Harapan government.

I had never expected the invincible Barisan Nasional to be toppled in the May 9, 2018 General Election.

But the seeds for the premature end of the Pakatan Harapan government were planted as early as in the first hundred days of the new administration.

One of the early mistakes of the Pakatan Harapan government was the decision to ratify the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) without preparing the ground for it.

It came as a total surprise to DAP leaders and to me when the Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said in his speech at the United Nations at the end of September 2018 that the government would ratify all core United Nation conventions on human rights.

This was followed by the announcement that the government would ratify ICERD in the first quarter of 2019.

This provided fodder for leaders of UMNO and PAS to launch a prolonged racial and religious agitation that this was against the Constitution, would strip away Malay privileges and threaten Islam's position as the official religion, creating the spectre of racial and religious strife in the country.

The PAS President alleged that the move was not based on religion or humanity and urged the people not to be influenced by the West that had abandoned “religion and the ethics of true humanity".

There was no truth or basis to these lies and distortions.

A total of 179 countries, which included 99% of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims, had ratified ICERD – including 55 of the 57 countries in the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC).

In the past half a century, no community or religion had suffered as a result of such ratification.

Apart from Malaysia and Brunei, 36 of the 38 countries with monarchical systems had ratified ICERD, and none of these 36 countries had abolished the monarchical system as a result of such ratification, most notably the United Kingdom, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

If ICERD represented a grave assault on the rights and interests of the Malays, Islam and the Malay Rulers, DAP leaders will not support ICERD and all Malaysians regardless of race, religion or region would have opposed it.

But the practitioners of toxic politics of lies, hate, fear, race and religion continued to incite raw emotions and primordial fears, even issuing threats of Malays running amok and ‘rindu May 13’.

I dare say that six decades after May 13, 1969 Incident, no Malaysian would want the country to ratify ICERD at the price of another May 13 racial riot in the country.

But the U-turn on ICERD ratification came too late and was completely ineffective to quell the racial and religious storm to entrench Malay and Muslim support by UMNO and PAS leaders – leading to the premature end of the Pakatan Harapan government.

Two events represent the height of irony in the ICERD storm –

  1. the architect of the Pakatan Harapan’s ICERD storm is now a front-line Minister of the government formed after the Sheraton Move backdoor betrayal; and
  2. DAP was blamed for demanding that the Pakatan Harapan Government ratify ICERD when in actual fact, DAP Ministers and leaders knew nothing about it.

Then came the tragic death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim on during the Seafield Temple riot on November 26, 2018, which was fully exploited by irresponsible and reckless forces trying to incinerate the country with racial and religious lies, hate and fear.

The rest is history.

Can Malaysia be saved?

On May 9, 2018, Malaysians had wanted a New Malaysia which was united, democratic, just, progressive and prosperous, a world top class nation which is capable of leveraging on the best of the diverse races, languages, cultures and civilisations that meet in confluence in Malaysia so as to gain international respect and admiration as a successful nation which leads the world in unity, democracy, justice, freedom, excellence and integrity, and not scorned as a global kleptocracy and kakistocracy hurtling towards a failed state future.

Has such a dream for a New Malaysia been lost forever?

Is Malaysia condemned to be a kleptocracy, kakistocracy and a failed state?

This is a question all Malaysians must answer.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri