Malaysia can be saved by the combined energies and commitment of youths, women and senior citizens in Malaysia

Many Malaysians have been thinking of the question: Who could save Malaysia.

I think the answer is not in a Mahathir Mohamad, Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Guan Eng, Lim Kit Siang, Gobind Singh Deo or M. Kulasegaran, but whether we can motivate and mobilise the youths, women and senior citizens and combine their energies and commitments to save Malaysia.

Is the Malaysian Dream – an 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, a lost cause? Is Malaysia to be condemned and scorned as a global kleptocracy and kakistocracy hurtling towards a failed state future.

Malaysians achieved a near-miracle on May 9, 2018 and toppled a seemingly invincible UMNO-led Barisan Nasional in the 14th General Election in plursuit of a Malaysian Dream.

But 22 months later, through the Sheraton Move conspiracy, the Pakatan Harapan government was toppled, giving way to a “backdoor” government.

Has the Malaysian Dream for a New Malaysia been lost forever and Malaysia condemned to be a kleptocracy, kakistocracy and a failed state?

I do not think so.

Those who are opposed to the Malaysian Dream employed the toxic politics of lies, hate, fear, race and religion to incite raw emotions and primordial fears, to make one race and religion to fear another race and religion.

For instance, I was painted together with other DAP leaders as being an existential threat to the Malay race, Islamic religion and the institution of Malay monarchy, when DAP had declared its support for the monarchical system and the cardinal features of the Malaysian Constitution on the Malay language and Islamic religion for the past five decades.

But the irony of ironies was that in the 22 months of Pakatan Harapan government, I was painted by the UMNO, PAS and MCA cybertroopers as an existential threat to both the Malays and the Chinese in Malaysia – although clear heads and proper thinking would show that this is an impossibility.

But when the Malays, Muslims, non-Malay and non-Muslim religions are made to believe that they are all facing an existential threat, it is no time for clear heads or proper thinking.

For instance, I was accused of being born in China and somehow came to Malaysia when I was 17, of being a relative Malayan Communist Party Secretary-General Chin Peng when all these are barefaced lies.

On Friday, I visited my old house at No. 24, Jalan Penggaram in Batu Pahat where I lived during my primary and secondary school days and which I left sixty years ago.

But facts and truth are not important to the cybertoopers of lies, hate and fear but we must not descend to this despicable level, and even more important, ensure that Malaysians do not succumb to the lies, hate and fear engendered by the cybertroopers of lies, hate and fear.

This is time to review what went wrong in the 22 months of Pakatan Harapan government.

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.

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 represented 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. In fact, he was the first to talk about a “deep state” in Malaysia, sabotaging the Pakatan Harapan’s plans and objectives.
  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.

There are those who predicted that the DAP will be decimated in the next general election.

But the public response to the DAP campaign of “RM10-a-person” for the bail of Lim Guan Eng and Betty Chew, reaching RM3,947,000 when the week-long campaign ended on Friday midnight, does not bear support for these prophets of doom for the DAP.

But we cannot be complacent.

DAP and Malaysia are at the cross-roads.

Either DAP gives up the Malaysia Dream and regress to the old politics where the DAP could be portrayed by our opponents as a party which represents the non-Malays, or we bravely move forward towards a new frontier in continued pursuit of the Malaysian Dream renouncing the politics of race and religion and representing all Malaysians to make Malaysia a more democratic, just and excellent nation for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region.

Malaysia’s future lies in the youths, women and senior citizen groups. Some 17% are in the 15-24 age group while senior citizens above 55 years comprise some 15 per cent. Women is about half the population.

If we can harness the energies and aspirations of the youths, the senior citizens and women in Malaysia, the Malaysian Dream is not yet lost.

This is the new challenge to DAP and to all Malaysians in the coming years.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri